Context: Telecom firms have asked the government to clarify about the entity that will be held liable in the event of a security breach in the network after the implementation of the National Security Directive (NSD) in the telecom sector, according to sources aware of the development.


  • The Cabinet Committee on Security headed by the Prime Minister gave its approval for a National Security Directive on the Telecommunication Sector (NSDTS) that will impact the digital and telecom ecosystem in the country. 
  • The NSDTS will be a step ahead of the Preferential Market Access (PMA) policy that meant to support the domestic manufacturers and give preference to the domestically manufactured telecom and electronic products.It mandates service providers to purchase equipment from trusted sources.
  • Objectives
    • Cybersecurity: The NSDTS is aimed at preserving the integrity of the supply chain under which the government will declare a list of trusted sources and trusted products for installation in the country’s telecom networks. 
    • There will also be a list of designated sources from where no procurement is to be made. 
    • Authorities: The methodology to designate trusted products will be devised by the designated authority, the National Cyber Security Coordinator of India.
    • The list of the trusted source and product decided on the basis of approval by a committee headed by the Deputy National Security Adviser and having representation from the relevant ministries, industry bodies and independent experts. 
    • Apply to
      • The directive will apply to new deployment and does not compel the telecom providers to mandatorily replace the existing equipment or alter the annual maintenance contracts.
      • Under the current rules, telecom operators are held responsible for any security breach in their network.

Cybersecurity concerns: Huawei issue

  • Chinese gearmaker Huawei was in conflict with governments in Canada and the U.S. 
  • The U.S. has alleged Huawei did not comply with its cybersecurity and privacy laws which makes the country and the citizens vulnerable to espionage.
  • India may cut Huawei gear from telecom networks.

Issues raised by telcos:

  • Mobile service providers wanted the government to ensure price competitiveness among vendors in case equipment from China was barred from the networks.
  • It was suggested that the price competitiveness can be maintained by way of reducing import duties. 
  • Nokia and Ericsson have told that the prices of their gear would come down as they manufacture in India and hence  save on import duty.