The Bihar Police has ordered a crackdown on SIM cards procured through fake documents amidst a spurt in online sexual blackmailing cases. The police have asked telecom companies to book customers with SIM cards issued on fake documents.
“Cases of sextortion are increasing in the state. The Economic and Cyber Crimes Division (ECCD) of Bihar Police has registered around 15 such cases in the last three-four months. It has taken the shape of an organized crime,” Additional Director General of Police (Economic Offences Unit), Nayyar Hasnain Khan told PTI.
There are several gangs based in Rajasthan, Delhi, Jharkhand, and West Bengal that are extorting money from people by blackmailing them with WhatsApp video calls through their associates in Bihar, the ADGP said.
“These criminals use mobile SIM cards issued on fake and forged documents, this is the reason that we have asked telecom service providers to book customers with SIMs issued on fake documents,” Khan said.
“We are in constant touch with senior officials of Delhi, Rajasthan, Jharkhand, and West Bengal Police to identify and arrest cyber criminals operating from there,” he said.
In most cases, cybercriminals mainly target men through WhatsApp chats from fake accounts. After sending some messages, the woman, a part of the gang, video calls the man after getting numbers during their conversation and starts stripping during the call. Then, with their naked video recordings as evidence, the criminals begin extorting the victim, threatening to upload their photos on social media.
“Cybercriminals send screenshots of the video and ask for money in return. These fraudsters make video calls on random numbers in which a nude woman chats with the targeted victim”, said Khan while explaining the modus operandi.
There are cybercriminals based in Nawada, Gaya, Nalanda, Jamui, and Sheikhpura districts in the state working as associates for the interstate sextortion gangs operating from Rajasthan, Delhi, Jharkhand, and West Bengal, the ADGP said.
“District police are already on high alert in these areas, and searches are conducted to nab cybercriminals operating there,” Khan said.
“We also request people or victims to come forward and file formal complaints with the police. People must report sextortion to a nearby police station immediately. Don’t hesitate to file a complaint”, he said, adding that such incidents are happening in large numbers, but hardly 2-3 per cent of victims approach the police because of the social stigma attached to it.
“We request people not to engage themselves in video calls with unknown users. Accepting random friend requests or video call on WhatsApp from strangers can land you in trouble”, the ADGP said.
TRAI Said to Moot Mechanism for KYC-Based Caller Name Display, Consultation to Begin in a Few Months
Telecom regulator TRAI will soon start consultation on framing a mechanism for caller’s KYC-based name to flash on phone screens when someone calls, according to a top official.
The consultation on this is expected to begin in a couple of months, TRAI Chairman PD Vaghela said.
“We have just received a reference, and we will start work on this soon. Name as per KYC will appear when someone calls,” Vaghela said.
TRAI had already been thinking on similar lines, but now with the specific reference from the telecom department, work on this will start soon.
“The mechanism will enable name-appearing on a phone screen, in accordance with KYC done by telecom companies, as per DoT norms,” Vaghela added.
The move assumes significance as the mechanism will help identify callers as per their KYC (Know Your Customer) and bring greater accuracy and transparency than some apps that identify callers based on crowdsourcing data.
Sources said that once the framework for KYC based-new mechanism is worked out, the identity establishment will become more clear and legally tenable. It will also have a ripple effect, leading to a clean up of data on crowdsourcing apps as there will be KYC linkages.
Asked whether the process will be kept voluntary, sources said it is too early to discuss the modalities since many aspects will come up for discussion at the consultation stage.
TRAI has also implemented blockchain technology to curb the problem of unsolicited commercial communication (UCC) or spam calls and messages.
Experts say that a KYC-based caller identification mechanism would safeguard users against rising instances of spam calls and fraud.
Meanwhile, in an email statement, the caller identification app Truecaller’s spokesperson said: “We welcome any, and all actions in the mission to make communication safe and efficient”. “Number identification is crucial to ending the menace of spam and scam calls and we, at Truecaller, have been working tirelessly towards this important mission for the past 13 years. We appreciate this move by TRAI and would like to reiterate that we remain very supportive of this and any future initiatives they have,” the company spokesperson added.
Vi Rs. 151 Prepaid Add-on Pack With 3-Month Disney+ Hotstar Mobile Subscription Launched
Vi (formerly known as Vodafone Idea) is offering a new prepaid add-on pack along with three months of Disney+ Hotstar mobile subscription. The data plan costs Rs. 151 and offers 8GB of data. It has 30 days validity. Similarly, the telecom company recently announced an Rs. 82 add-on with SonyLiv mobile access for 28 days. Vi’s major rival in the space, Airtel recently released two new prepaid plans bundled with a free three-month subscription to Disney+ Hotstar Mobile. The two new plans cost Rs. 399 and Rs. 839 and come with a validity of 28 days and 84 days, respectively. The new plans will benefit fans of the Indian Premier League (IPL).
As per Vi’s website, the new Rs. 151 prepaid add-on pack brings access to a total of 8GB of data along with three months of Disney+ Hotstar mobile subscription. The plan’s validity is 30 days. It doesn’t have any service validity. It was first spotted by Telecom Talk.
Like the Rs. 151 plan, Vi recently released a data add-on plan worth Rs. 82 with access to an OTT platform. It comes with the SonyLiv mobile subscription for 28 days. The plan also includes 4GB of data with a validity of 14 days.
Since the Indian Premier League (IPL) has begun, major telecom service providers are busy introducing prepaid recharge plans that come with Disney+ Hotstar access. Earlier this month, Airtel released two new prepaid plans for its users. The plans are priced at Rs. 399 and Rs. 839 and come with a free three-month subscription to Disney+ Hotstar Mobile. They offer unlimited voice calling support and a daily limit of 100 SMS messages. The Rs. 399 plan has a validity of 28 days and includes a daily data limit of 2.5GB. The Rs. 839 plan has a validity of 84 days and a daily data limit of 2GB. Similar to Vi and Airtel, Reliance Jio also has prepaid recharge plans with Disney+ Hotstar Mobile subscription.
China Condemns Huawei, ZTE Ban Move in Canada, Calls Security Risks ‘Groundless Without Any Solid Evidence’
Beijing hit out at Canada for banning telecoms giants Huawei and ZTE from Canadian 5G networks on Friday, calling Ottawa’s concerns for security risks “groundless” and warning of retribution.
Canada’s long-awaited measure on Thursday follows the United States and other key allies, and comes on the heels of a diplomatic row between Ottawa and Beijing over the detention of a senior Huawei executive on a US warrant, which has now been resolved.
The United States has warned of the security implications of giving Chinese tech companies access to telecommunications infrastructure that could be used for state espionage.
Both Huawei and Beijing have rejected the allegations.
“China is firmly opposed to this and will conduct a comprehensive and serious assessment,” foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told reporters in response to the 5G block.
“The Canadian side has excluded these Chinese companies from the Canadian market under the pretext of groundless security risks and without any solid evidence.”
He added that Beijing would “take all necessary measures” to protect Chinese companies.
“This move runs counter to market economy principles and free trade rules,” he said, accusing the Canadian government of “seriously damaging the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese companies.”
Canada had been reviewing the 5G technology and network access for several years, repeatedly delaying a decision that was first expected in 2019.
It remained silent on the telecoms issue after China jailed two Canadians – diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor – in what observers believed was in retaliation for the arrest of Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wangzhou in Vancouver in December 2018 at the request of the United States.
All three were released in September 2021 after Meng reached a deal with US prosecutors on the fraud charges, ending her extradition fight.
But Canadian Industry Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne made the 5G announcement on Thursday, citing the “intention to prohibit the inclusion of Huawei and ZTE products and services in Canada’s telecommunication systems.”
Champagne said Canadian telecommunications companies “will not be permitted to include in their networks products or services that put our national security at risk.”
“Providers who already have this equipment installed will be required to cease its use and remove it,” he said.
Huawei already supplies some Canadian telecommunications firms with 4G equipment.
Most, if not all, had held off using Huawei in their fifth-generation (5G) wirelesss networks that deliver speedier online connections with greater data capacity. Others have looked to other suppliers while Ottawa hemmed and hawed.
Canadian Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino warned Thursday of “many hostile actors who are ready to exploit vulnerabilities” in telecom networks.
The United States, Australia, Britain, New Zealand, Japan, and Sweden have already blocked or restricted the use of Huawei technology in their 5G networks.
The US government considers Huawei a potential security threat due to the background of its founder and CEO Ren Zhengfei, a former Chinese army engineer who is Meng’s father.
The concern escalated as Huawei rose to become the world leader in telecoms networking equipment and one of the top smartphone manufacturers.
Beijing also passed a law in 2017 obliging Chinese companies to assist the government in matters of national security.
The decision could prove to be “a major expense for Canada,” Kendra Schaefer, tech policy researcher at consultancy Trivium China, told AFP.
“Not only have local telecom providers already invested… in Huawei equipment, but additionally they are going to go back and have to rip out everything they’ve already installed,” she added.
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