In an attempt to curb spying through telecom equipment, the Indian government has announced the National Security Directive on the Telecommunication Sector, which will force service providers to buy equipment from trusted sources.
India's Minister of Telecoms and Information Technology Ravi Shankar Prasad said the move is in the interests of national security.
"Under the provisions of this directive, the government will declare a list of trusted sources and trusted products for installation in the country's telecom network," he said.
He added that the methods used to designate trusted products will be devised the National Cyber Security Coordinator. The government will also create a blacklist and it will be illegal to buy from any companies on it.
"Those that meet the criteria of the Department of Telecommunications' (DoT) preferential market access (PMA) scheme will be certified as trusted Indian sources. The National Security Committee on Telecoms will take measures to increase the use of equipment from such sources," Prasad said. "The Department of Telecoms will make appropriate modifications in the licence conditions for the implementations of the provisions of the directive. The policy will come into effect after 180 days from the date of approval.”
However, the move will not see any existing telecoms equipment in operation replaced. Annual maintenance contracts or updates to existing equipment already inducted into the network will also not be affected.
A source in the Indian government revealed that the plan is to kick out untrusted Chinese firms Like Huawei and ZTE.
Earlier this week, Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar said that Ladakh incident – when at least 20 Indian soldiers were killed in a clash with Chinese forces in a disputed Himalayan border area – had seriously impacted the country’s view of China.
India has already banned around 200 Chinese mobile apps, including the highly popular video-sharing service TikTok and online multiplayer battle game Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG) amid the eight month border stand-off in Ladakh.
Beijing expressed “grave concerns” over the drastic steps taken by the Modi government, calling for the immediate rollback of the “discriminatory approach to avoid causing further damage to bilateral cooperation.