IB asks government to block VoIP calls
Bangalore: The Intelligence Bureau has asked the Ministry of Communication to block all internet telephony (Voice over Internet Protocol) services to and from the country till the Department of Telecom (DoT) places a mechanism to track such calls, reports the Economic Times.
The IB opines that presently India does not have the capabilities to track internet telephony calls from both domestic and international callers and has asked the DoT find an early solution to the issue, which is in the interest of national security.
"In the absence of Caller Line Identification (CLI) parameters of calls landing from abroad, it's next to impossible to identify the country of location of the caller. Also, a number of service providers in India have started providing VoIP solutions for making calls both domestics as well as foreign. The calls passing through the VoIP/IP route contain inadequate parameters making it impossible to trace the actual callers. As DoT had conveyed that it is not possible to mandate transmission of CLI from abroad, we had approached DoT to block such calls till a technical solution is found," said the Intelligence Bureau.
If the DoT implements the IB directive, it will impact thousands of consumers who use the internet to make low cost phone calls and free computer calls across the globe. The MTNL in Delhi and Mumbai as well as many leading ISPs offer internet telephony services. Skype, Google, Yahoo and Windows Live also provide such services to the customers.
TRAI's latest performance indicators report defines that there were over 130 million minutes of internet telephony recorded in the January-March quarter 2009. This report also adds that 34 Internet Service Provider (ISPs) offer net telephony services in India legally.
"The terrorists used net telephony as they were aware that India did not have the technological capabilities to do a live trace of such calls. In the U.S. and Europe, all players who offer VoIP services have provisions that allow governments to track these calls. Many of them have also installed equipment at their premises to monitor VoIP calls upon orders from governments," said Vijay Mukhi, Cyber Security Expert.
The IB's communication to the DoT also covers many other security related issues including the presence of Chinese equipment vendors like Huawei and ZTE providing equipment such as routers and switches to private operators and state owned BSNL.
IB has pointed out that Huawei is using state-owned Indian Telephone Industries (ITI) to manufacture equipment in India, but did not actually transfer the technology, thus posing a security threat to the country.