Decision comes from Centre as unlicensed equipment could leave law enforcement agencies vulnerable.
Following a complaint by a group of ham radio operators that wireless equipment being sold online on e-commerce sites can pose a serious national security threat, the union Telecommunications ministry has now ordered the ecommerce websites to stop selling wireless equipments online with immediate effect.
In November 2016, a group of 78 ham operators had written to the Wireless Advisor in the Telecommunications ministry at Sanchar Bhavan warning them about a national security threat posed by unidentified wireless transmissions being heard on the VHF frequencies used by the ham operators. In the same letter, they had also drawn the attention of the ministry and Prime Minister’s Office, the Intelligence Bureau, the three defence chiefs to the unrestricted sales of open band, VHF, UHF two way radios, wireless sets, walkie-talkies and base mobile stations.
Taking cognizance of letter, the Wireless Planning and Coordination Wing of the Telecommunications ministry issued orders on April 26 to e-commerce sites to stop selling these equipments immediately.
Such sales are in violation of the rules Indian Wireless Telegraphy (Possession) Act, 1965, which mandate that any person using wireless telegraphy equipment needs to acquire a licence and those selling such equipment need to acquire a Dealers Possession Licence.
Speaking to Mumbai Mirror, Ankur Puranik, spokeperson of Ham Radio Operators, Mumbai, said, “Cash on delivery facility is also being made available on these sites, and our concern is that the powerful equipment can fall into wrong hands and be misused. More importantly, these twoway radios can tune into any frequency including confidential frequencies used by law enforcement agencies. They can be misused to listen to confidential wireless conversations.
“Moreover, it is possible to obtain system generated logs of call records in case of mobile phone calls. However, it is not possible to obtain any details or system generated logs of radio call records of illegally operating wireless stations unless they are under surveillance,” said Puranik.