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DoT makes pre-approval of VAS mandatory

Press Trust Of India  |  New Delhi 

"It has been brought to the notice of the licensor (DoT) that telecom service providers are not meeting the legitimate monitoring requirement of the security agencies which has serious implications on national security," the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) said in a letter to all cellular and basic service providers.

The direction would have serious implications for the growth of VAS, which currently contributes nearly 25 per cent to telecom operators' profitability.

The department has said that service providers must inform it about the launch of any new service/facility in their network 15 days in advance according to earlier instructions, failing which it will be treated as breach of terms and conditions of licence agreement and appropriate action will be initiated.

It said the required information in the prescribed format with regard to monitoring arrangement be made available by all the operators for each service that is being offered, or proposed to be offered, to the respective cell of the department, on quarterly basis.

The government has taken this step in the backdrop of the controversy over BlackbBerry services, which have allegedly posed a major security threat in absence of monitoring of information transmitted through the device.

DoT also said that an amendment was made in the licence agreement in 2002 with regard to VAS that inter-alia provides that "the licensee should make arrangements for monitoring by government security agencies." However, this has not been implemented by most of telecom service providers, DoT said.

"The licensees are also directed to ensure that no new services are launched until appropriate systems for monitoring of this service are put in place," DoT said in the letter, copy of which has been sent to all operators and respective cells of the department.

Upon furnishing of information, DoT would inspect the nature of monitoring arrangement that has been made available by the service providers for the services offered by them.

DoT is still struggling to resolve the BlackBerry controversy to the satisfaction of the security agencies and in the process has asked the service providers like Bharti, Vodafone and Reliance Communications not to offer services unless the BlackBerry vendor RIM deposits the master key to decipher the information with the government.

First Published: Sat, May 17 2008. 00:00 IST