Feb 17

- Soon, govt will keep track of where every mobile user is (The Indian Express, Feb. 16, 2012):

The government is looking to track all mobile phone users.

As per amendments made to operators’ licences, beginning May 31, operators would have to provide the Department of Telecommunications real-time details of users’ locations in latitudes and longitudes.

Documents obtained by The Indian Express show that details shall initially be provided for mobile numbers specified by the government. Within three years, service providers will have to provide information on locations of all users.

The information will have some margin of error at first. But by 2013, at least 60 per cent of the calls in urban areas would have to be accurately tracked when made 100 metres away from the nearest cell tower. By 2014, the government will seek to increase the proportion to 75 per cent in cities and 50 per cent in suburban and rural areas.

For calls made 300 metres from the nearest cell tower, accurate coordinates will be required for 95 per cent in cities and 60 per cent in towns and villages at the end of two years.

The changes in licence terms also include making service providers completely responsible for the security of their networks. Licence holders would pay a fine of Rs 50 crore for any breach of security. The government can also start criminal proceedings for a breach.

The planned increase in mobile phone surveillance comes as the DoT sets up a centralised monitoring system (CMS) to tap mobile phones instantly. “In the existing system, secrecy can be easily compromised due to manual intervention while in CMS these functions will be performed on secured electronic links,” Sachin Pilot, MoS, Communications and IT, told Parliament recently.

New telecom policy Highlights

* All future licences will be unified licences allowing mobile service providers to operate across the country with a single permit.

* Spectrum will be delinked from licence, and will be obtained separately.

* The validity of existing licences may be extended for 10 years at a time.

* Need for transferring spectrum from some government departments “accepted in principle”.

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