In a bid to maintain privacy and secure communication, Government of India has now allotted almost 80 high-end Google Pixel 'customized' phones with Jio SIMs to the top bureaucrats on a 'trial' basis.
Well, according to reports the home ministry had drawn up a list of 100 officials from multiple ministries for the purpose, and 80 of these Google Pixel devices have been handed out so far. The balance 20 units seem to be in the pipeline.
However, this project seems to be at a 'pilot' stage and the sample distribution is basically for measuring the performance and security of the device. Besides, the Google Pixel phones were found to be compliant with the specifications given by the home ministry, and the 'customization' of the 4G phones was undertaken by the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC) and Electronics Corporation of India Ltd (ECIL).
A home ministry official said that while the handset and the telecom service provider are important elements of security, the critical aspect is the application on which the communication -- both voice and data -- is based. "If that and the application server are secured, encrypted and appropriately certified, the security issues can be broadly addressed," the official said.
Meanwhile, the government officials also already make use of RAX which is a fixed landline secure communication network that keeps government safe from interception by intelligence agencies of foreign countries.
Explaining the rationale behind the use of Pixel phones when RAX exists, a senior government official told The Hindu, "being a landline connection RAX has a limitation; the mobile phones will ensure communication even if an officer is out of office. They have been customised to suit the security needs."
More significantly, the new mobile phone which runs on Android OS has a pre-stored directory that contains the number of all officials above the rank of joint secretary.