The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), which essentially is the telecom regulatory body in the country is now finding itself in a tricky situation. For one, it wants the Supreme Court to simplify the March 14, 2011 guidelines issued by the Centre to be followed by mobile service providers across the country, pertaining to availing a new telephone number, and it intends to do so without stepping over the security barbs that have been placed around it, following the recent terror attacks in the country. TRAI is of the opinion that if the original guidelines are implemented, then an average subscriber would have to wait for an additional 6-7 days from the date of the purchase of the connection.
Will making it simpler defy security? (Image credit: Getty Images)
Further elaborating on what it was hoping for, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India informed a panel, comprising of Chief Justice S H Kapadia and Justices A K Patnaik and Swatanter Kumar through senior advocate Vikas Singh that they sought to work around a way through the guidelines, so as to keep the growth of teledensity constant, not cause any grief to the prospective subscribers and not alter the nation's security in any way. The aforesaid guidelines, better known as the March 14th, 2011, guidelines came to being in the wake of a series of terror strikes in the country, wherein mobile phones played a pivotal role. The guidelines, thus formed were forwarded to the apex court, when it was incidentally hearing a PIL, filed by a certain Abhishek Goenka alleging that mobile service providers in the country do not adequately verify the identity of new subscribers.
Quoting a few lines from TRAI's affidavit, the report states, “In India, at present, in absence of unique identification database for the entire country, it is difficult to verify credentials of all mobile subscribers. At the same time, the authority feels that the issue of national security is of paramount importance and to the extent possible, the defined process should be able to capture the identification of mobile subscribers and his address.” In its affidavit before the apex court, it asserted that the application form that a subscriber was required to fill up to acquire a new number was complicated, to begin with and the compulsory verification that was customary before the activation of the number wasn't doing too well in helping them achieve high teledensity levels in rural areas. TRAI, subsequently suggested a model customer acquisition form (CAF), which was simpler, and as secure as the one proposed by the Centre.