The Department of Electronics has come out with detailed guidelines for ISP s setting up landing stations in India for submarine cables. This is part of the measure to increase international bandwidth for data transmission. While the the guidelines to clear the decks for broadening of the bandwidth is welcome, the provisions do raise some concerns.
It appears that the Government is trying to use the licensing terms
to achieve some of its Policing objectives. In the process the ISP s may
be forced to undertake activities which may be considered illegal and in
violation of the fundamental rights of the people. A quick glance at some
of the salient provisions is provided here.
1.The landing station should be used only for carrying Internet traffic.While some of the provisions are understandable, there is no doubt that the authorities have gone overboard in prescribing the security requirements. First of all the entire responsibility for identifying the equipment and software nedds as well as the cost of monitoring is shifted to the ISP/Landing station. The so called "Monitoring Authorities" will be tought what to monitor and how to monitor and they are supposed to exercise their powers thereon on the teacher and financier. The logic of such an arrangement is not comprehendable. The limitations on the key length for encryption is also not understandable. Perhaps the authorities need to explain the purpose of this provision.
Perhaps lot more discussions are needed before the license is accepted by the community. If the bandwidth is being shared by various ISP s we need to understand how the citizen would be able to exercise his right not to use this channel for Internet usage if he choses to. Secondly, it is doubtful whether it is feasible to impose restrictions on transmission of encrypted data when the channel is part of the global system.
There is need to continue this discussion. I welcome readers to send in their views.