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Govt plans special mobile phones for armed forces

Data should reside in servers in India so that govt & law enforcement agencies have control over it

Kiran Rathee  |  New Delhi 

Indian Army, logo

The is contemplating giving armed personnel special mobile phones, which are likely to be designed by an Indian company.

The idea is to keep and communication devices used by the secure. The plan was in the preliminary stages and the would deliberate on it further after internal discussions and talks with other stakeholders, including manufacturers, said officials. The specifications for the mobile phone will also be discussed later.

“The Minister of Electronics and IT, Ravi Shankar Prasad, had discussed about the possibility of making a mobile phone designed exclusively for the with all security features,” an officer in the ministry said.

The main aim of the government, he said, was to ensure transferred over the phones are secure. The should reside in servers in India, so that the and the law enforcement agencies have full control over it. This is the reason why an Indian manufacturer is likely to be chosen.

The possibility of using a foreign company that has servers in India cannot be ruled out, the official added.

The has over the past few months become extra cautious regarding the and how it can be misused by adversaries. To keep the on Indian servers, the had devised an e-mail policy, which ensured secure services for all its officials. The secure communications is being offered to 5 million users.

According to a statement, “In accordance with the e-mail policy of the government, an e-mail id will be assigned to all officials at the Centre and the states through the National Informatics Centre.”

The primary trigger for the policy was the that resides on servers outside India and on servers beyond the control of the of India.   Recently, the had cracked the whip on smartphone manufacturers, asking them to share their security practices while making phones in India. It had issued notices to about 30 smartphone manufacturers. Around 12 companies have responded and the rest have sought more time.

According to officials, India wants to strengthen and secure its cyberspace and digital infrastructure, more so in a situation when most firms making smartphones in India have servers abroad. A majority of these firms are Chinese, which either sell the devices directly or provide parts to Indian manufacturers. 

The is uncomfortable depending too much on Chinese firms in the electronics sector, as such would be more vulnerable to hacking and misuse.

First Published: Wed, August 30 2017. 01:46 IST