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Secure mobile handsets for senior bureaucrats

 For the first time, the government has given more than 500 customised Google Pixel phones which cost nearly Rs 60,000 to senior bureaucrats in the ministry, that is to officers in the rank of Joint Secretaries and above, for the purpose of having “secure communication.” These handsets work on Reliance Jio Sim cards and were distributed nearly two months ago.

The government already  uses a fixed landline secure communication network, RAX, since the time of the previous UPA government. The present  BJP regime has also increased the number of RAX lines from 1,300 to 5,000 since it came to power.  But it has now distributed handsets in the name of security. The phones, which run on Android OS, have a pre-stored directory that contains the number of all officials above the rank of joint secretary.

Recently, the Computer Emergency Response System- India (CERT-IN), the Cyber Security Arm of the government sought details of the security process followed by over 30 handset firms selling mobile phones in the country.

News is that these new customized phones still remain mainly unused “showpieces” and many officers continue to use the secure landline facility.

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