Location-based mobile services may be made mandatory

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on March 10, 2011

In a bid to make telecom networks more secure, the Department of Telecom is planning to amend telecom operator's licences to add a number of new service rules including making it mandatory for mobile operators to offer location-based services.

Location based service is being suggested in order to enable security agencies to pinpoint the exact location of a user at any given time.

Geographical position

Location-based services essentially allow operators to know the geographical position of the mobile device using the cellular network. While this is useful for providing a wide range of entertainment and information services to consumers, security agencies want to use it for identifying the location of specific subscribers.

According to the norms being proposed by the DoT, operators will have to include the location of all subscribers as part of the call data records over the next three years. This will be included in the operator's licence thus making it mandatory.

Equipment testing

DoT is also proposing to make it compulsory for operators to get all the network equipment tested by international agencies such as the Common Criteria Labs.

However, a telecom equipment vendor said that the Common Criteria Labs are basically used for computers and IT systems and may not be relevant for a telecom network.

Keeping records

Other amendments being brought into the licences include putting the entire onus of keeping the network secure on the telecom service providers.

Operators will have to keep all records of software used on the network, record of operation and maintenance for a 12-month period including who gave what command at what time.

Vendors have to allow operators to inspect their manufacturing facilities and subject their software to security check at any time. The expenditure of such visits shall be borne by the operator directly or through the vendor.

DoT has proposed to impose a penalty of Rs 50 crore for violating the norms.

The new rules will supersede all the earlier guidelines issued for importing telecom equipment.

While the proposed change makes it easier for vendors by doing away with the need to deposit the source codes and other stringent measures under the earlier guidelines, operators may raise objections for having to bear the sole responsibility of securing networks.

Published on March 10, 2011

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