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CDR row: COAI says DoT sought details to improve network quality

New Delhi: Amid the row over government seeking call detail records of users, the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) has on Wednesday stated that pursuant to COAI letter dated February 12, the DoT had discussed the issue with us and had explained the reasons for seeking the data.

After being satisfied, the COAI cooperated with the DoT to source the information sought by the DoT to improve network quality and address call drops, said Rajan S Mathews, who is COAI DG, in a press released.

Mathews further said, "The DoT stated that its request for the anonymised CDRs was in response to numerous public complaints regarding poor network such as call drops, cross speech, congestion, etc of the telecom service providers, causing irritation and inconvenience to customers."

"The DoT has recently decided to leverage latest technologies and software, including big data analysis and has developed an application, to address various network problem issues. It's being carried out to provide quality of telecom services," the COAI DG said.

The DoT has further clarified that such data is being sought by the department under the provisions of Rule 419 of Indian Telegraph Rules, 1951, that mandates the telegraph authority to get such data for telegraph (telecom) network/equipment.

"The standard operating procedure (SoP) issued by the DoT for seeking such data specifies that only an officer not below the rank of a senior administrative grade officer is authorised to seek this data. There are also oversight mechanisms exercised by a review committee chaired by the head of the respective licensed spectrum access (LSA)," he said.

"The above reiterates that the data sought from the TSPs are as per the provisions of rules and as per the due process stipulated in the SoP. As further protections to safeguard any threat to privacy of customers the data is anonymised and does not contain the personal information such as names of any individual," he further stressed.

The TSPs are keen to point out that we work in close cooperation with the DoT on the issues pertaining to network quality especially on issues of RoW which have been plaguing the industry for many years, the COAI DG said. However, the COAI also hailed the DoT for their continuing efforts and focus on improving network quality of service especially related to RoW.

Meanwhile, the government also denied asking for call details of citizens after excerpts of a letter by telecom operators to the Department of Telecom were reported on Wednesday.

"There were complaints of call drops from various places, after which the government asked for call data records randomly and in bulk to investigate how many attempts it took to connect calls and the number of call drops," official said.

"The government's aim was to improve telecom services, not spy on citizens," they asserted, pointing out that mobile operators were liable to pay fines for call drops.

Earlier on Wednesday, the Congress slammed the government over media reports claiming that it was carrying out surveillance of citizens in transgression of the Right to Privacy and accused it of seeking to create a surveillance state.

Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari alleged that the BJP government was seeking to create an 'Orwellian state' by indulging in a "premeditated conspiracy" for which the Congress held it responsible and accountable.

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