Sunday, May 25, 2014

Indian Department Of Telecom (DoT) Projects The Ignored Areas As Priorities Now

Facing tremendous pressure from the future Prime Minister of India, the Department of Telecom (DoT) of India has marked the priority areas. Surprisingly, these areas are the same that have been deliberately avoided and ignored by DoT for so many years.  Is this adoption of double standards on the part of DoT or a sincere effort to remove the inadequacies of Indian telecom sector is still to be seen.

The present working and policy decisions of the DoT have put the cyber security of India in a precarious situation. There are many cyber security challenges that the Narendra Modi government would be required to deal with simply because DoT and previous government failed to take effective steps in this direction.

According to Praveen Dalal, managing partner of New Delhi based ICT law firm Perry4Law and leading techno legal expert of Asia, “Cyber Security of India needs a “Ground Level Overhaul” as it has been ignored in India for decades. Even on the legislation front, India has failed to do the needful. For instance, we need to repeal the laws like Information Technology Act, 2000 (IT Act 2000), Indian Telegraph Act, 1885, etc but for some strange reasons our bureaucrats and Indian government kept them intact”.

“I have been suggesting these recourses for the past five years but till now nothing concrete has happened in this regard. Similarly, crucial laws are absent from Indian statute books. These include law regarding privacy, data protection (PDF), telecom security, encryption, cloud computing, etc, informs Dalal”.

Surprisingly, now DoT believes that introduction of new laws and norms, including the communication bill to replace century-old Indian Telegraph Act, security of networks, and infrastructure must be the priority areas for the new government. DoT has even listed top 10 priority areas for the sector with the Cabinet Secretary. The Cabinet Secretary has asked all the departments to keep a presentation ready for appraising the new Prime Minister of achievements as well as failures of the outgoing government and steps the departments would like to take in order to boost the growth.

The DoT’s list include introduction of Communication Bill that will replace over century old Indian Telegraph Act, 1885, as well as Indian Wireless Telegraphy Act 1933, TRAI Act 1997, Cable TV Network (Regulation) Act 1995, IT Act 2000, official sources said. An internal committee of DoT has already recommended providing telecom, cable and broadcasting services by a single company and paying for the services though a common bill.

Apart from this, DoT has listed six major incomplete projects, including Rs 20,000-crore National Optical Fibre Network (NOFN) project aimed to provide high speed broadband services across all 2.5 lakh panchayats in the country along with Wi-Fi services that were started by the outgoing UPA government.

DoT has said that there is a need to further amend telecom licences for facilitating growth”. There is a need to separate network licensing from services licensing and ease barriers to entry and exit for telecom players. The new government should work on implementation of full Unified Licensing Regime”, an official source said.

Amid growing cyber espionage threat, DoT has listed security of communication network in the agenda. The department said there is a need for “comprehensive plan for telecom security, including creation of testing facilities for integrity of communications network”. At present, India does not have any security testing facility for telecom equipment to detect complex malware. DoT has also listed need to strengthen mobile services in border area, dedicated communication network for defence forces as part of communication security.