India’s Home Ministry has told the country’s operators that they need to start storing each and every text message that goes through their network for a period of 6 months. For a country that regularly sends between 130 and 150 billion texts a month, this new government requirement is going to require a huge amount of spending for data centers. Normally operators only store messages for specific phone numbers that have been flagged by security forces, but with India now clamping down on crime, going so far as to give RIM an ultimatum about their BlackBerry service in the region, it’s of no surprise that this new legislation occurred.
Operators are protesting the move, saying that India enjoys some of the lowest prices for mobile service, as proven by an article published earlier today. This new measure would mean that the added costs would have to be passed onto consumers, and that it would slow down India’s exploding amount of new subscribers buying mobile devices for the very first time. Such a move could impact device manufacturers such as Nokia, who sell the devices that the less fortunate could afford. If they can’t pay for service, why would they pay for a device?
Privacy arguments have also been raised, and how operators will go about storing these messages has not been clearly outlined by the government. All it takes is one employee to start leaking out messages of famous celebrities, or worse yet charging people to pass on private records, for the whole nation to go insane. Such a move wouldn’t fly in America, though I’m not sure how long Verizon and AT&T store their customer’s data.
If you’re in India, what do you think about this? Is the added security worth the additional hassle and cost? Do you sleep better at night knowing that the naughty text message you sent 5 months ago to your ex-girlfriend is sitting on some computer?