Telcos seek clarity on onus of security breach post NSD roll-out

They urge Centre to ensure price competitiveness if Chinese gear is barred.

Telecom firms have asked the government to clarify about the entity that will be held liable in the event of a security breach in the network post implementation of the National Security Directive (NSD) in the telecom sector, according to sources aware of the development.

Telecom operators have given their input to the government in a meeting called by the National Security Council Secretariat (NSCS) about one-and-a-half weeks back, industry sources told PTI.

‘Work on road map’

“A meeting was called to work on the road map for trusted products by the NSCS,” said an official with a private operator. “Senior regulatory officials of telecom service providers attended the meeting and gave their inputs. Telcos wanted the government to come out with clear guidelines [as to] who [would] be responsible for any breach in the network if the government is making a list of trusted products that have to be deployed in the network,” said the official.

Under the current rules, telecom operators are held responsible for any security breach in their network.

Another private operator representative said two private mobile service providers wanted the government to ensure price competitiveness among vendors in case equipment from China was barred from the networks.

“It was suggested that the price competitiveness can be maintained by way of reducing import duties. Nokia and Ericsson have told government officials that the prices of their gear would come down as they manufacture in India and [hence] save on import duty,” the representative said.

In a bid to tighten the security of the communications network, the Centre had, on December 16, announced the National Security Directive for the telecom sector, which will mandate service providers to purchase equipment from trusted sources.

Notably, Chinese gearmaker Huawei has had run-ins with governments in Canada and the U.S. The U.S. has alleged Huawei did not comply with its cybersecurity and privacy laws leaving the country and the citizens vulnerable to espionage.

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