As discussions with Canadian maker of BlackBerry smartphones — Research in Motion — to enable interception of its corporate email service run into technical glitches, the government is exploring the option of enacting a law to make it mandatory for service providers to give security agencies access to data passing through its network.
In the existing legal framework, telecom service providers are obliged to create interception facilities under its license agreement with the government.
Inspired by the American Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act, the security establishment wants to give this rule a statutory backing to ensure stricter compliance. This law defines the statutory obligation of telecommunications carriers to assist law enforcement in executing authorised electronic surveillance.
It is, however, not clear if the Indian security agencies are willing to foot the bill to fund the additional infrastructure that it wants to be put up by service providers for efficient interception as happens in the US.
A government official said the new law will help ensure that the telecommunication carriers and manufacturers of telecom equipment would modify and design their equipment and services to deliver built-in surveillance capabilities.
Another government official wondered if the enacting a law would change anything. “It would still require the government to gather the courage to actually pull the plug for non-compliance,” he said.