India proposes high-security voice and data network

The development of India’s consumer technology industry has seen its share of hindrances – such as governmental intervention and occasionally hostile media – but what market hasn’t? There are plenty of positives to refer to in the country’s recent tech history – from international arrivals such as the launch of Windows Phone and the Islamic phone that always points towards Mecca, to home-grown success stories such as the $35 Android tablet, the Aakash, which has amassed over 1.4 million pre-orders since its launch in October.

As India’s technology landscape grows and matures, one major concern that the country shares with Western nations is that of ensuring an appropriate level of security for governmental communications and activities, a priority that has grown as India becomes more dependent upon digital technologies, both within Government and among the citizenry. With this in mind, the country’s authorities are proposing a high-security nationwide communications network, exclusively for use by the Government.

NDTV reports that the Department of Telecom has identified a need “to develop and deploy a pan-India secure network, and network-based services such as email, VoIP, mobile communication through a survivable and available network architecture for government use, with a government funding of Rs. 450 crore” (4.5bn rupees (INR) or approximately $85.5m USD).

The $35 Aakash tablet wasn't quite as Indian as the PR suggested. Will a secure Government
network be more successful at reducing India's international tech dependencies?

Currently, most Government communications are carried out on the internet using third-party international services, such as Gmail and Skype; although these services carry their own encryption and security protocols, India believes the risk of interception by foreign governments and agencies is too great. “For the security of communication flowing within the country, it is desired that traffic should not flow outside the country, and should be routed through the National Internet Exchange of India (NIXI), a government-supported not-for-profit organisation that facilitates exchange of domestic internet traffic.”

The exact structure and composition of this secure domestic network remains to be defined, but the proposal forms part of a five year plan for the country’s telecommunications infrastructure. Given the increase in cyber-attacks suffered by world governments and organisations over the last couple of years though, it’s not hard to see why the Indian Government is keen to tighten the security of its classified communications.

Image via LinuxJournal

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