India may blacklist some telecom equipment vendors for security reasons

Deputy NSA will head the national security committee on telecom which will give its recommendation on which vendors are trusted and which are not.
Union ministers Ravi Shankar Prasad and Prakash Javadekar during a press briefing on Cabinet decisions, at National Media Centre in New Delhi on Wednesday.(PTI)
Union ministers Ravi Shankar Prasad and Prakash Javadekar during a press briefing on Cabinet decisions, at National Media Centre in New Delhi on Wednesday.(PTI)
Updated on Dec 16, 2020 05:51 PM IST
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Hindustan Times, New Delhi | Byhindustantimes.com | Edited by Poulomi Ghosh

The Cabinet on Wednesday approved the setting up of a national security directive on telecommunication sector, which will have a significant impact on India’s security, IT and telecommunications minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said announcing the new guidelines for telecom service providers.

“Considering the need to ensure India’s national security, the Cabinet has accorded approval for the national security directive on telecommunication sector. Under this, in order to maintain the integrity of the supply chain security, government will declare a list of trusted sources, trusted products for the benefit of telecom service providers,” the minister said adding that similarly there will be a list of designated sources from whom no procurement will be done.

The move will also be a push to “self-reliant India” as telecom gears made by domestic players might be considered in the category of trusted sources.

Giving out the details of how this listing will be done and how it would impact telecom service in future, the minister said, “Once the lists are prepared, telecom service providers will be required to connect new devices which are designated trusted products. The designated authority will make its determination based on the approval of a committee headed by the deputy NSA. The committee will consist of members from relevant departments, ministries, two members from industries and an independent expert. The committee will be called the national security committee on telecom.”

There will be no provision for mandatory replacement of existing equipment already inducted in the network of the service providers and the annual maintenance contracts will not be impacted either.

The move comes at a time when India has already blocked several mobile applications — all Chinese — for being a threat to the “sovereignty and integrity of India”.

In June this year, the government had blocked access to 59 mobile apps and on September 2, another 118 apps were banned under Section 69A of the Information Technology Act. These apps included popular gaming app PUBG, TikTok, UC Browser, Baidu, Baidu Express Edition, Tencent Watchlist, FaceU, WeChat Reading and Tencent Weiyun.

In November, another 43 Chine mobile apps were banned.

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Wednesday, May 25, 2022