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BW Businessworld

Awaiting The Right Call

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Hillary Clinton will be in New Delhi to hold talks on second India-US Strategic Dialogue. But she is also likely to discuss three important subjects concerning telecommunication. A preliminary discussion was held early this month between DoT officials and a team from US Department of Commerce. "It has been discussed with Michael Camunez, Assistant Secretary US Department of Commerce," sources in DoT said.
The three subjects that are likely to be taken up are mandatory technology transfer, data privacy and e-commerce and equipment manufacturing. Sources in DoT indicate that the US business lobbyists had briefed the US Commerce department about, what they perceive as "commercially risky" areas in doing business using telecommunications in India.   
Major area of concern for US is data privacy. DoT has prepared a report, which highlights the Indian government's concern about data privacy. It also highlight that legislation will be soon introduced as a law, that will protect data privacy. Penal provisions have also been incorporated for compromising with data security. "Once Law come into force, the private data can be accessed only through a due process of law," said a senior DoT official.
A large number of US multinational companies in India use Blackberry. The Blackberry services, in India and globally has been under cloud on managing the security issues. Government has set up a committee to look into all types of known encrypted communication so that the issue of interception and monitoring of these services can be dealt comprehensively.
The committee had submitted its report on 19 April 2011, but did not provide a clear road map, to deal with encrypted communication services, a senior DoT official said. Moreover, members from Ministry of Home Affairs, Intelligence Bureau and Special Action Group did not sign the report. "IB disagreed with most of the recommendations of the committee fully or found them to be of impractical nature," says an internal report of DoT.
Therefore, the issue was further analysed and a comprehensive proposal has been prepared, which after consulting with MHA will be finalised soon.
Department of Information Technology is also likely to be involved in the preparation of the report to be discussed with Clinton. The department has been asked to provide inputs for the initiative taken in e-commerce. According to a report released by the industry body Internet and mobile Association of India (IAMAI), the e-commerce market is expected to grow by 47 per cent from Rs 31,598 crore in 2010 to reach Rs 46,520 crore by end of this year.
The commercial stakes are high for both Indian and US, so are the security concerns.