RAW Wants Ex­tra Checks on ILD Gate­way Oper­a­tors

DoT op­poses pro­posal, finds no logic be­hind the need to con­duct back­ground checks on these cos

The Economic Times - - Economy - GULVEEN AULAKH

The Re­search and Anal­y­sis Wing (RAW) has asked the tele­com depart­ment to seek the ap­proval of na­tional se­cu­rity agencies be­fore grant­ing pro­vi­sional per­mis­sion to in­stall and op­er­ate gate­ways for in­ter­na­tional long-dis­tance (ILD) ser­vices, a pro­posal that the depart­ment has called un­nec­es­sary. Ac­cord­ing to an in­ter­nal note seen by ET, RAW has said agencies such as it and the In­tel­li­gence Bureau (IB) should be al­lowed to con­duct thor­ough back­ground checks of the com­pa­nies that want to set up ILD gate­ways and their pro­mot­ers, as well as study the ram­i­fica- tions of such projects on na­tional se­cu­rity. The Depart­ment of Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions (DoT) has op­posed this pro­posal, say­ing there was no logic be­hind the need to con­duct back­ground checks on a com­pany ev­ery time it sets up a gate­way. At present, for get­ting the fi­nal ap­proval, oper­a­tors of ILD gate­ways need to demon­strate the ca­pa­bil­i­ties that they have set up for in­tel­li­gence agencies to law­fully mon­i­tor voice and data traf­fic and in­ter­cept what is nec­es­sary. DoT in­forms these agencies about the pro­vi­sional ap­provals it grants. But, ac­cord­ing to RAW, se­cu­rity agencies are not con­sulted for con­duct­ing back­ground checks on the com­pa­nies be­fore they gain ac­cess to In­dia’s tele­com net­works. ILD com­pa­nies are ei­ther front com­pa­nies for ma­jor tele­com oper­a­tors who may have a for­eign stake, or the oper­a­tors may sell a part of their stake to for­eign or do­mes­tic in­vestors, which makes the se­cu­rity im­pli­ca­tions sig­nif­i­cant, the agency said. Ac­cord­ing to it, small ILD oper­a­tors work for one or the other ma­jor car­ri­ers, and this helps the car­ri­ers pro­vide in­ter­na­tional long-dis­tance fa­cil­i­ties while avoid­ing re­spon­si­bil­ity and penalty in case of any vi­o­la­tion.

Ac­cord­ing to DoT, over 49% FDI in such cos is granted by FIPB af­ter due pro­ce­dure

Ac­cord­ing to DoT, for­eign di­rect in­vest­ment of more than 49% in such com­pa­nies is granted by the For­eign In­vest­ment Pro­mo­tion Board (FIPB) af­ter due pro­ce­dure. This takes care of the re­quire­ment of se­cu­rity agencies, it said.

In ad­di­tion, the fi­nal ap­proval is given only af­ter such com­pa­nies set up law­ful in­ter­cep­tion and mon­i­tor­ing ca­pa­bil­i­ties, which are ap­proved by se­cu­rity agencies. This process is the same for all com­pa­nies, In­dian and for­eign. DoT has fur­ther ar­gued that ILD oper­a­tors set up gate­ways, ac­cord­ing to op­er­a­tional needs and “it will not be log­i­cal to do back­ground checks of a com­pany again and again”.

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