India’s Intelligence Bureau (IB) has reportedly called on the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology to block all internet telephony services in and out of the country until the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) is able to track such calls, the Economic Times reports. The IB claims that India currently lacks the necessary technology to track VoIP calls, and argues that this presents a national security issue, with the bureau noting: ‘In the absence of Caller Line Identification (CLI) parameters of calls landing from abroad, it is next to impossible to identify the country of location of the caller. Moreover, of late a number of service providers in India have started providing VoIP solutions for making calls both domestics as well as foreign. The calls passing through the VoIP/IP route contain inadequate parameters rendering it impossible to trace the actual callers. As DoT had conveyed that it is not possible to mandate transmission of CLI from abroad, we had approached DoT to block such calls till a technical solution is found.’
Should the DoT act on the recommendations, hundreds of thousands of VoIP subscribers would be affected; according to the latest available statistics from the Telecoms Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) there are 34 companies providing commercial VoIP services at the end of March 2009, and more than 130 million minutes of calls using internet telephony were logged between January and March 2009.