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Telcos, vendors seek NDA from government for protecting proprietary info on trusted portal



Telcos, vendors seek NDA from government for protecting proprietary info on trusted portal

Global network vendors and telcos have sought a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) from the government to protect all sensitive and proprietary information relating to telecom gear procurements that will be shared with the National Cyber Security Coordinator (NCSC) on the new trusted telecom portal.

In a recent letter to the National Cyber Security Coordinator (NCSC), telcos and vendors have also urgently sought clarity on specific steps the government plans to take to prevent any external actors from potentially hacking such proprietary information, two industry executives told ET.

Under a national security directive for the telecom industry, operators have been mandated to buy network gear only from trusted and authentic vendor sources and share details of all planned procurements on the government’s trusted telecom portal that went live last week. The new portal will operate as a certifying window and telecom gear suppliers empanelled with the authority will be able to track the progress on approval of their applications.

“We don’t have any NDA with the government yet to protect all the sensitive and proprietary information being shared with the authorities, and this is a major concern that has been raised with the government and needs to be addressed at the earliest,” a top industry executive aware of the matter told ET.

The matter was flagged to the NCSC by the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), which represents Reliance Jio,

, Vodafone Idea (Vi) and global network vendors such as Finland’s Nokia and Sweden’s Ericsson.

This, since ensuring business confidentiality of their submissions on the government’s trusted telecom portal is seen as critical for ensuring long-term business continuity of their operations in India.

At press time, COAI declined to offer comment to ET’s queries. Separate queries to Jio, Airtel, Vi, Ericsson and Nokia went unanswered.

Separately, network vendors are set to push the government to allow telecom gear hardware/software OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) to directly submit their products-related information on the trusted portal, without having to go through any intermediaries.

Operators and gear makers are also working closely with the NCSC to iron out initial technical issues that they now face while making submissions on the portal.

Last week, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) had directed all licensees to appoint nodal officers who would be authorised to access the new telecom portal, provide inputs, and coordinate with NCSC, which is the new designated authority overseeing network gear procurements.

Back in March, DoT had issued amendments in telecom permits for procurement or use of telecom equipment from trusted sources only.

Under the new process, network vendors have to provide details of active components that go into a piece of telecom equipment along with the place of manufacture and the company’s headquarters, ownership structure and details on intellectual property rights. Additionally, they have to provide information about the software that powers the equipment.

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