The Department of Telecom (DoT) made amendments to the Unified License Agreement on December 21, extending them to other forms of telecom permits on December 22. The amendments ask telecom and internet service providers to extend the duration of archiving call data and internet usage records of customers to two years from one year, citing security reasons. The changes were made under Clause No. 39.20 of the licence agreement that the DoT has with the operators. According to sources, the request for additional time was made by multiple security agencies.
“The licensee shall maintain all commercial records/call detail record/exchange detail record/IP detail record with record to the communications exchanged on the network. Such records shall be archived for at least two years for scrutiny by the licensor for security reasons…,” the DoT circular said.
The telecom companies may destroy the stored data if there is no direction from the DoT thereafter. The circular said that the amendment is necessary for “public interest or in the interest of the security of the state or for the proper conduct of the telegraphs”.
The list of internet data records of subscribers that operators need to preserve includes login and logout details of all subscribers for services provided such as internet access, e-mail, internet telephony services like calls made from mobile applications or wifi calling in addition to the usual IP details. Earlier the rules mandated the archive call data and internet usage records for at least one year.
“It is a procedural order. Many security agencies pointed out to us that they needed data even after a year since most investigations take more than that to be completed. We had a meeting with all service providers who agreed to keep the data for the extended period,” a senior DoT official said.
The licence condition also goes on to mandate that the commercial and call detail records be provided by mobile companies to law-enforcement agencies and to various courts upon their specific requests or directions, for which there is a laid-down protocol.