Amid row with China, India may blacklist some telecom vendors
The central government on Wednesday said that it will prepare a list of trusted and non-trusted sources of telecom vendors in the name of national security. The government said that it may designate a list of sources from whom no procurement can be done. The development comes in the midst of the months-long border row between India and China. Here are more details.
Government frames National Security Directive on Telecommunication Sector
Union Minister of Electronics and Information Technology Ravi Shankar Prasad addressed a press conference on Wednesday after a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Prasad said a National Security Directive on Telecommunication Sector has been framed keeping India's national security in mind. Under the provisions of this directive, the government will list trusted and non-trusted telecom sources.
'List of trusted sources will be decided by a panel'
Prasad said, "The methodology to designate trusted products will be devised by the designated authority, the National Cyber Security Coordinator. Telecom service providers are required to connect new devices that are designated trusted products." He added, "The list of the trusted source and product will be decided based on approval of a committee headed by the deputy national security advisor."
Committee to comprise members from relevant departments, ministries
The committee, which will be called the National Security Committee on Telecom, will comprise members from relevant departments and ministries, Prasad said. It will also have two members from the industry along with independent experts.
No mandatory replacement of existing equipment
Prasad said, "The present directive does not envisage mandatory replacement of the existing equipment already inducted in the network of TSPs." The directive will not impact annual maintenance contracts or updates to existing equipment already inducted into the network. Under the directive, telecom gears made by domestic players will be listed in the trusted category, the Minister added.
'Committee to help increase use of domestic trusted sources'
Prasad said, "The National Security Committee on Telecom will take measures to increase the use of equipment from such Indian trusted sources." He added, "The Department of Telecom will make appropriate modifications in the license conditions for the implementations of the provisions of the directive. The policy will come into operation after 180 days from the date of approval."
India has already banned Chinese equipment
In recent months, India has banned the import of equipment from China for use in sectors ranging from telecom to power citing national security reasons. The government said the move was driven by concerns that imported equipment was embedded with spyware or malicious software, called malware. The government has also banned hundreds of Chinese mobile apps citing national security concerns.