DoT, security agencies divided on steps to check mobile data services snooping

Thomas K Thomas New Delhi | Updated on November 12, 2017

Matter may be referred to panel of Secretaries

The Department of Telecom and security agencies are at loggerheads on how to deal with the issue of snooping into highly encrypted data mobile services such as those offered on BlackBerry devices.

The matter may now be referred to the Committee of Secretaries to find a solution.

Proposals rejected

The Government had earlier appointed a committee to look into the issue of intercepting and monitoring data transmitted through highly encrypted systems. However representatives of the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Intelligence Bureau refused to sign the report.

According to sources, the IB has rejected almost all the proposals made by the special committee.

The DoT had suggested that the security agencies should snoop into the servers of various corporates to track high encrypted data services such as those offered on BlackBerry devices.

It had also said that the law enforcement agencies should develop its own technology to snoop into telecom networks rather than depending on operators and service providers.

In the case of BlackBerry, for example, the Canadian firm which manufactures the device has told the security agencies that it has no technology available that will allow Indian law agencies to crack into the enterprise email services. But MHA insists that the company provide a solution or withdraw it services in India.

“Banning a service is not a good solution. If a company says there exists no solution and later a solution is found to exist only then the services should be barred. We have prepared a proposal which will be sent to MHA for approval. If they do not approve then we will take the matter to the CoS,” said a DoT official.


The security agencies have raised concerns about a number of data services being offered by the likes of Nokia and Google.

The basic problem is that under Indian laws, operators are allowed to use encryption up to 40 bit whereas most of the data services use much higher encryption to make it more secure against hacking. Security agencies do not have the technology to crack into anything that has higher encryption keys.

Published on May 30, 2011

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