Thursday, September 17, 2009

India might ban VoIP calls

India’s intelligence bureau has requested Indian government to block all Voice over Internet Protocol services till it finds a solution to trace VoIP calls. The reason being, VoIP services are used by terror groups for communication, and currently India doesn’t have the capability to wiretap these calls. I do understand the seriousness of the concern with the national security. However, what I don’t understand is how come India could not find a solution to trace VoIP calls. Its not that India is the only country facing the security threat from VoIP services, there are many other countries that are going through the same hell. But not all of them have banned VoIP services; instead they have found a solution to wiretap VoIP calls. For e.g. in US, it’s mandatory for any VoIP vendors to support wiretapping capabilities. There are well written standards to wiretap VoIP calls.

Banning VoIP services is not an easy task. There are so many loop holes in the technology that one could easily hack the system. In addition, P2P technology makes it harder for wiretapping VoIP calls. We all know how skype is not complaint with the wiretapping rules. I’m not sure how security forces can wiretap Skype, which uses P2P technology for communication. For tracing and listening to the VoIP calls, you need servers that have the capability to intercept the voice, and provide a backdoor to the security agencies to listen to the conversation. I know it sounds creepy, but that’s the way it is. When it comes to national security, anything is ok as long as innocent people are not wiretapped.

So instead of blocking VoIP, Indian government should focus on building solid technology to trace such calls. They need to follow US government policies, and find a way to expedite the process of bringing in new technologies that can help them monitor VoIP calls.

For folks that call India often, this might be a bad news. The reason we are able to make International calls to India at such a low rate is because of VoIP. A ban could prove costly and would increase per minute rates to India drastically. Lets hope Indian government finds a solution to monitor VoIP calls instead of banning VoIP services.

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1 comment:

ResourceNation said...

This is pretty crazy. I never thought of using a VoIP phone as spy equipment. I had no idea that VoIP service couldn't be wiretapped - thought without a "wire" I guess it was fairly obvious.