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Govt to amend telecom licence norms to control sourcing from China, non-friendly destinations

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Govt to amend telecom licence norms to control sourcing from China, non-friendly destinations

The government is likely to amend the telecom licence norms this month to incorporate the guidelines of national security directive on telecommunication sector that will help in controlling installation of network equipment from China and other non-friendly countries. 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. “DoT is almost ready to amend licence conditions to incorporate guidelines NSD (national security directive). It should be done in the coming week,” an official source said.

Notably, Chinese telecom gear maker Huawei has had its run-ins in the past with the governments of Canada and the US. The US has alleged that it did not comply with its cybersecurity and privacy laws, leaving the country and the citizens vulnerable to espionage. The list of the trusted source and product for installation in telecom networks will be decided based on the approval of a committee headed by the deputy national security advisor. The committee will consist of members from relevant departments, ministries and will also have two members from the industry and independent experts. The directive, however, does not envisage mandatory replacement of the existing equipment already inducted in the network of telecom operators and it will also not affect annual maintenance contracts or updates to existing equipment already inducted in the network as on date of effect of the directive.

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While the government has not barred procurement of equipment from Chinese companies, it amended the general financial rules (GFR) 2017 to enable the imposition of restrictions on bidders in public procurement from countries that share a land border with India on grounds of defence of India, or matters directly or indirectly related thereto, including national security. Public companies need to scrap tenders if a qualified bidder is from a country that shares a land border with India, which includes China.

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