Service providers will have to purchase equipment from trusted sources

The new directive has integrated the objective of achieving supply chain security in the telecom sector with the all-important Atmanirbhar Bharat mission,says Director General of the Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, Sujan Chinoy says in his write up in The Times of India.

The main purpose is to identify “Trusted Sources” both Indian and foreign and to mandate procurement of certain telecom equipment by telecom service providers (TSPs) only from vendors that have been certified by the designated authority (DA).

Calling the decision of the government to maintain the integrity of the supply chain in the telecom sector a welcome step, long in the making, Chinoy adds that the TSPs will avoid compromising the security of the network they operate by sourcing only from the approved list of “Trusted Sources” and “Trusted Products”.

Pointing at the Chinese companies such as Huawei and ZTE, Chinoy says that the new directive will eliminate dubious foreign suppliers whose products have been suspected of harboring backdoors and vulnerabilities that could be misused during hostilities.

Several countries around the world already have such regulations in place or are in the process of putting in place such a framework. In May 2019, President Donald Trump had signed an executive order declaring a national emergency, barring US companies from using telecom equipment made by firms deemed to be posing a national security risk.

The US has also set up the Clean Network Initiative in 2020 to “implement internationally accepted digital trust standards across a coalition of trusted partners”.

Concluding the article, Chinoy points out that India should rely more on indigenously manufactured telecom equipment. The recent directive is a much-needed step in that direction. It will help India better protect the confidentiality and integrity of its telecommunications networks while facilitating ‘data in motion,’ he says.

Read the full report in The Times of India