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Post Zoom privacy woes, Centre seeks indigenous video conferencing software by end of July

Written by Aashish Aryan
| New Delhi |

Updated: April 17, 2020 2:20:38 am

Zoom, Zoom safety, Zoom MHA guidelines, whats is Zoom app, Zoom app privacy policy, Zoom banned, Zoom safety features, Zoom MHA The government has mandated 12 checkpoints that all such softwares must pass in order to qualify, including allowing “encrypted network communication”. (Image source: Reuters)

Following security scares of virtual meetings between officials suspected of having been leaked and intruded, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeiTY) has launched an innovation challenge that aims to find an indigenously built video conferencing software by July-end.

“Of course the Zoom security scare is a concern. Otherwise also, the Ministry is of the view that work-from-home and social distancing could become the new normal. For now, the lockdown is till May 3, but what if it is extended? We want to find a lasting solution,” a MeiTY official said.

For now, the competition has been kept open to all companies or startups, which wish to participate in the project. If however, a company’s idea is selected in the top 10, they must mandatorily register themselves in India with ownership of more than 51 per cent held by an Indian, the official said.

“The data must be stored in India. We had meetings with industry leaders, and Nasscom. They opined that such a software can be developed in India, provided there is a commitment of the software being used, along with some incentives. We have kept all that in mind,” the official said.

The jury to decide the winner would be formed only after April 30, once the top 10 teams are finalised, as the government wants to avoid a conflict of interest situation, officials said.

The government has mandated 12 checkpoints that all such softwares must pass in order to qualify, including allowing “encrypted network communication”.

“The team which wins will have a central and state government contract of at least four years, in addition to the other monetary benefits,” another ministry official said.

Video conferencing software Zoom has been in the dock for security scares, with big technology companies like Google and Apple having barred their employees from using the software for official meetings.

On Thursday, the Ministry of Home Affairs, too, released detailed guidelines, which cautioned that the video conferencing app Zoom was not “for use by government officers or officials for official purposes”.

“The broad objective of this advisory is to prevent any unauthorized entry into a Zoom conference room and prevent the unauthorized participant to carry out malicious attacks on the terminals of other users in the conference,” the government said.

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Updated: April 16, 2020 — 8:56 pm

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