Centre for Internet & Society

As part of research, on July 2, 2013, the Centre for Internet and Society (CIS) had sent Right to Information (RTI) requests to two of the largest internet service providers (ISPs) in India: Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited (MTNL) and Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) requesting answers to some questions.

Answers to the following questions were requested:

  1. Please list the companies from which MTNL/BSNL has bought all its security equipment.
  2. What type of security equipment does MTNL/BSNL use to assist Indian law enforcement agencies in detecting and preventing crime, terrorism and all other illegal activity? Please provide the certification for all such equipment.
  3. What malware does MTNL/BSNL test for? What does MTNL/BSNL use for testing malware in its networks?
  4. Which proxy server does MTNL/BSNL use and is it used for filtering data? If so, what type of data is being filtered and for what purpose? Is authorisation required and if so, by whom?
  5. Does MTNL/BSNL use FinFly ISP? If so, who authorises its use and under what conditions?

M. K. Sheda, the appellate authority of MTNL, responded to the above questions on August 3, 2013 with the following answers:

  1. MTNL procures all its equipment through an open competitive bidding process and the details of all past tenders are available on the MTNL website. Equipment from multiple vendors are operational in GSM MTNL Packet-Core Network and specific names cannot be given due to security reasons.
  2. MTNL uses the security equipment by the Department of Telecommunications, Government of India, to assist Indian law enforcement agencies. The details cannot be disclosed as the information is classified as "secret" as per MTNL IT Policy Revision 2.0 and also comes under Section -8 (1) (a) and (d) of the RTI Act 2005.
  3. MTNL GSM Packet Core equipment for data access uses MTNL ISP as its interface with external entities. Thus information is pertaining to MTNL ISP and hence a reply may please be taken from the GM (Broadband) unit.
  4. Same answer as "3" above.
  5. Same answer as "3" above.

BSNL has still not responded to the above questions.

Click below to download the respective files:

  1. RTI Application to BSNL
  2. Reply from MTNL
The views and opinions expressed on this page are those of their individual authors. Unless the opposite is explicitly stated, or unless the opposite may be reasonably inferred, CIS does not subscribe to these views and opinions which belong to their individual authors. CIS does not accept any responsibility, legal or otherwise, for the views and opinions of these individual authors. For an official statement from CIS on a particular issue, please contact us directly.