India has expressed concerns over an attempt by the Western countries to include cyber security technologies under the Wassenaar Arrangement, a global agreement on arms and weapons export control.

Changes were made to the Wassenaar Arrangement in December at a plenary meeting held at Vienna following the Snowden revelations.

May hit Indian firms “These changes could have severe impact on India’s cyber security programme — both software and hardware — as these would come under export control regime, the entire inventory of high-end cyber technology is with the Western countries like the US and they may deny products to Indian organisation,” said a senior Government official.

A high level meeting of the National Security Council was recently held to discuss the next course of action. The problem is that the products included in the control list have not yet been made public and the next round of plenary meeting to be held at the end of this month is expected to see the formal adoption of this agreement.

The 41 signatory states include the US, Russia, Japan, France and Germany. Since India is not part of the agreement, it does not have access to the decisions or means to influence the proceedings. Therefore, Indian may seek membership to the exclusive club.

The UK and French governments are leading this move to clamp down on cyber technology in a bid to address fears around cyber warfare and spying. According to foreign media reports, western intelligence agencies are concerned about such technologies falling into enemy hands.

While Indian authorities admit that the proposed export rule could have its merits, they want Western countries to take on board India’s concerns with respect to access to high-end technologies for genuine security purposes. “The best way to deal with this would be to have our own technologies and invest in R&D but that would take time. We would like to engage with countries like US and UK to take our view on board before listing out products under export control,” said a Government directly dealing with the issue.

Pre-emptive move The official also said that as a pre-emptive move India was looking to purchase critical technology before the new arrangement is finalised. An expert committee has been set up to figure out the future course of action, including negotiating with six countries — the US, the UK, Israel, Germany, France and Canada.