Center cracks whip on telcos for fool-proof internet monitoring

Department-of-Telecom-DOT-India

Srinagar: Apprehensive about the misuse of Internet especially provided on the smart phones for fanning militancy related activities, Union Government has asked private telecom operators in Jammu and Kashmir to provide at the earliest a mechanism for fool-proof monitoring of Internet traffic to the J&K government.

The apprehension was conveyed to telecom operators after Department of Telecom found monitoring equipment of at least two operators Vodafone and Aircel allegedly did not comply with standards thus creating problems for the security agencies, official sources said on Sunday.

Sources in the J&K police department t said, “Security agencies want to monitor the Internet traffic in the border state especially as rumors are floated and morphed pictures posted on the web by anti-national elements.”

Vodafone declined to comment whereas Aircel said, “We comply with the norms which have been laid by the Government and followed by all ISPs. Before starting our services, the Government has inspected and certified to start this service”.

Idea has complied with the requirement of providing facility through Internet node at Mumbai, Tata Teleservices installed two servers at Jammu, Reliance Communications shifted equipment from Chennai to Delhi and Airtel offered a final solution on or before first week of December 2012.

However, in a note prepared by Director (Access Service) P C Sharma, it was mentioned that while other telecom operators in Jammu and Kashmir had provided complete monitoring solution to Internet especially on mobile phones, two operators Vodafone and Aircel “had not complied with the requirement of installation of mobile Internet traffic monitoring”.

The note was submitted to Home Ministry for further action as deemed fit, the sources said, adding the security agencies had remarked that it was difficult to get real time information from some of the telecom operators leading to failure of some of the operations.

The DoT note said “the solution submitted by Vodafone does not seem to be in tune with the requirement of DoT.”

The need for monitoring the Internet especially on mobile phones was felt by the security agencies after rumors and morphed pictures, having a potential of disturbing the peace in the state, were hosted in social networking sites particularly from the smart phones.

Six private telecom players Airtel, Vodafone, Idea Cellular, Reliance Communications, Tata Teleservices and Aircel operate in the state and were asked to ensure commissioning of the requisite equipment by July 15, 2012 so that communications on the internet can be monitored on real-time basis.

Zahid Maqbool is a freelance journalist based in Srinagar.

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