In India, VoIP can get you arrested


It is only in India kind of news. Anyone using VoIP services in the southern Indian state of Kerala can be busted by police, according to this report.

bq. The Central Bureau of Investigation carried out raids at several places in the city yesterday and seized two personal computers which were allegedly used for making international calls using VOIP facility without authorisation. The raids were conducted on a tip-off by the BSNL authorities.

As context, CBI is the Indian FBI and BSNL is a state owned telephone company that is going private rather reluctantly. The funny part is that the government has actually given out licenses to offer VoIP services to various ISPs, but there were not many takers.

bq. It was after long resistance from the traditional telecommunication players that some of the leading Internet Service Providers were given licence for providing Internet Telephony service on a commercial basis. But there was no such rush for obtaining licence for VOIP which offers high quality telephone service through internet.

What the governments across the world have to realize that VoIP is a technology that is best suited to the consumer with a mind of his own. I think the Indian phone operator is trying to desperately hold on to the monopoly it had over communications, and is using police help to counter the relentless march of Moore’s law.

bq. Some of the protocol violators are also receiving a fair amount of money in their bank accounts as they use the technology to make and receive calls across the globe for phone sex. Since the calls are being connected through the websites and then routed through local BSNL network, the otherwise expensive long distance calls get converted to local calls with BSNL remaining the sole loser.


Aseem Bajaj

Well most of the times such raids are done on the behest of VSNL (rather than the BSNL)

VSNL wants to earn every paisa out of international calls terminating in India. There are some phone card companies in say US who sell cheap phone cards like 2-5 cents/minute and then they transfer calls to India on Internet. In India, they pay someone peanuts to host a well-connected computer that takes calls on internet and puts them on to the local telephone network.

More often than not such operations are busted because police clearly sees such patterns of installation causing high internet bandwidth a lot of outgoing calls.

I don’t know what to say about such things. I think the Govt has to take of restriction, or at least not punish these poor chaps so severly.


yes that is correct. i think the story was not reported correctly. anyway i got the gist of it and your FAQ is nice


In my rush, I didn’t compose the sentences properly. I hope you are able to get my point.


Probably you can verify it locally, but I have a suspicion that this is not properly reported. I think the raids are on suspected VoIP-PSTN patch activity: I call this kiosk from my house, they connect me to the far-end kiosk which makes a local to my partner. On the other hand, you established a VoIP call using wireless is perfectly legal.

By the way, I suspect such restrictions are there even in US, though FBI may not haul people. I don’t think I can link my telephone line to my neighbor and both of us using one line. Phone patch may violate that. Similarly, can I share a cable line between me and my neighbor?

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