The implications of the 5G roll-out for law enforcement


  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently announced that 5G deployment in India will commence sooner than expected. Reports suggest that the government will launch 5G at the inauguration of the India Mobile Congress in september 2022.
  • The long-awaited upgrade from 4G to 5G will allow ultra-fast Internet speeds and seamless connectivity across the country compared to 4G. The implications of the 5G roll-out could be significant, particularly for law enforcement in India.

What is 5G:

  • In telecommunications, 5G is the fifth-generation technology standard for broadband cellular networks, which cellular phone companies began deploying worldwide in 2019, and is the planned successor to the 4G networks which provide connectivity to most current cell phones.
  • Internet speeds in the high-band spectrum of 5G has been tested to be as high as 20 Gbps (gigabits per second), while, in most cases, the maximum internet data speed in 4G has been recorded at 1 Gbps.

Ensuring security

  1. On the one hand, the 5G roll-out is set to enhance efficiency, productivity, and security by helping the police access critical information in real-time and nab criminals.
  2. 5G has high bandwidth and low latency, so its adoption would ensure the best performance of police devices such as body cams, facial recognition technology, automatic number-plate recognition, drones, and CCTVs. 5G promises to transmit clearer images. This will simplify the task of the police who, at present, often look at hazy images from devices and attempt to decipher them while working on cases.
  3. The increased storage capacity promised by 5G will allow the police to streamline their investigation methods.
  4. 5G will also allow rapid and secure communication within the organisation as well as between civilians and emergency responders.
  5. With 5G, the police can remotely access and analyse crime data and information from other infrastructure such as traffic lights.
Facial recognition is an algorithm-based technology which creates a digital map of the face by identifying and mapping an individual’s facial features, which it then matches against the database to which it has access.

Challenges in adopting 5G:

  1. The government and telecommunication companies must first ensure that law enforcement agencies have the necessary infrastructure to take full advantage of all that 5G can offer.
  2. Even if law enforcement agencies get access to secure data from telecom operators, they will still need tools to access this data.
  3. Also, most police systems are outdated and may not be compatible with 5G. To bridge this technology gap, the police must invest in modern tools, software and infrastructure. They require funds to do this.

Cyber security concerns:

  1. Deploying 5G when we have a shaky cyber security foundation is like erecting a structure on soft sand. As the previous networks were hardware-based, India could practise cyber hygiene. But 5G is a software-defined digital routing. This makes it susceptible to cyber threats such as botnet attacks, man-in-the-middle attacks, and distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) overloads.
  2. As 5G lacks end-to-end encryption, hackers can plot their attacks more precisely and perpetrate cybercrimes by hacking into systems or disseminating illegal content.
  3. The bandwidth expansion due to 5G will enable criminals to embezzle data bases easily. With time, as 5G connects with additional devices, the frequency of attacks could increase.
End-to-end encryption (E2EE) is a method of secure communication that prevents third parties from accessing data while it’s transferred from one end system or device to another. In E2EE, the data is encrypted on the sender’s system or device, and only the intended recipient can decrypt it.

Major types of cyber attacks:

  1. Virus – It is a malware that self-replicates and spreads by inserting copies of itself into other executable code or documents.
  2. Hacking Websites – An unauthorized access to any website belonging in a personal or professional space
  3. Malicious Codes – It is a kind of security threat where any code present in software tends to bring harmful effects, breach the security of the system, or bring damage to the system.
  4. Advanced Worm and Trojan – This is again a malware that camouflages as a regular software however once accessed, brings damage to the hard drive, background systems and corrupts allocation systems
  5. Identity Theft and Phishing – It is a cyber attack involving fraudulent emails posing as authorized entities in order to induce people to reveal their information (personal and professional.)
  6. DOS, DDOS – Denial-of-Service attack and Distributed Denial-of-Service attack. The attackers make the machine or network unavailable by disrupting services of the host network through the flood of superfluous requests to overload systems. And when such flooding of requests comes from various ends, it is termed as DDOS.
  7. Cyber Espionage – Usually when a government’s or important organization’s privacy is posed at risk due to illegal use of computer networks to seek confidential information.
  8. Cyber Warfare – Deliberately attacking the information systems through the use of computer technology to disrupt the state’s activities, especially for military purposes.

Impact of 5G on criminal activities:

  • Criminals could use 5G to conceal their activities or mask their location. They could use 5G to locate their victims quickly and track their movements and coordinate onslaughts through real-time communication with each other.
  • There could be a lower probability of criminals getting caught when they commit identity theft or credit card fraud or steal information from computers, smartphones and tablets.
  • 5G may also make it easier for criminals to perpetrate cyber bullying. Criminal groups may be able to easily coordinate DDoS onslaughts because of the real-time communication capabilities between multiple criminal groups.
  • They could also hack into Internet-of-Things (IoT) devices and remotely commit crimes. For example, they could hack into a victim’s vehicle and cause an accident in order to collect insurance money, or hack into smart homes and smart cars to loot personal information, or inflict physical crimes. Security patching of all IoT devices may eventually become necessary.
Internet of things describes physical objects with sensors, processing ability, software, and other technologies that connect and exchange data with other devices and systems over the Internet or other communications networks.

Terrorists, too, could benefit from 5G as the high speed would allow them to execute attacks more rapidly and precisely. With 5G, terrorists can plan attacks without having to travel physically or use telephones, which could leave a trail for law enforcement agencies to act on.

Way forward: Fighting new-age crimes

Therefore, authorities will have to adopt measures to hinder crimes facilitated by 5G technology.

1. Police will need to be trained so that they recognise new 5G-enabled crimes.

2. Training programmes focusing on such crimes must be developed. This includes identifying potential scenarios for new types of crimes and their prevention.

3. The government and telecom companies could think of setting up a 5G crime monitoring task force to monitor and identify new crimes and develop countermeasures.

4. Create regulations that make it a crime for people to use 5G technology to commit crimes. Such a regulation could help prevent criminals from using stolen or counterfeit equipment since telecom companies will be able to track the location of the equipment and shut it down remotely.

5. Regulations may also require telecom companies to allow police officers access to their equipment to track the location of victims and perpetrators of 5G-facilitated crimes for countermeasures. These countermeasures may not only safeguard critical infrastructure but also defend private citizens from cyber-attacks using 5G technology.

6. Law enforcement agencies will have to evolve strategies to identify victims of 5G-facilitated crimes, locate them and take action against the perpetrators of such crimes.


The 5G roll-out will be a game-changer for law enforcement agencies. It will enable the police fight crime effectively. At the same time, criminal use of 5G is inevitable. In this context, the recent recommendation of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India to the government to develop a national road map for India to implement 5G in the best possible manner should encompass law enforcement requirements.

Reinvigorating the Chabahar port


After months of what appeared to be a “go-slow”, the Union government has revved up its interest in using Iran’s Chabahar port to connect to Afghanistan and Central Asia for trade, with the visit of the Union Minister of Ports, Shipping & Waterways Sarbananda Sonowal to the port recently.

The minister focused on the importance of Chabahar as a ‘‘gateway for Indian trade with Europe, Russia and CIS [Commonwealth of Independent States] countries”.

About Chabahar port:

  • The port of Chabahar is located in southeastern Iran in the Gulf of Oman.
  •  It is the only Iranian port with direct access to the ocean.
  • It’s located in the Sistan-Balochistan province on the energy-rich Iran’s southern coast.
  • The Chabahar port is considered a gateway to golden opportunities for trade by India, Iran and Afghanistan with central Asian countries.

Importance of Chabahar port for India:

  1. With this, India can bypass Pakistan in transporting goods to Afghanistan.
  2. It will also boost India’s access to Iran, the key gateway to the International North-South Transport Corridor that has sea, rail and road routes between India, Russia, Iran, Europe and Central Asia.
  3. It also helps India counter Chinese presence in the Arabian Sea which China is trying to ensure by helping Pakistan develop the Gwadar port. Gwadar port is less than 400 km from Chabahar by road and 100 km by sea.
  4. With Chabahar port being developed and operated by India, Iran also becomes a military ally to India. Chabahar could be used in case China decides to flex its navy muscles by stationing ships in Gwadar port to reckon its upper hand in the Indian Ocean, Persian Gulf and Middle East.
  5. Trade benefits: With Chabahar port becoming functional, there will be a significant boost in the import of iron ore, sugar and rice to India. The import cost of oil to India will also see a considerable decline in light of recent global energy crisis due to Russia- Ukraine conflict.
  6. From a diplomatic perspective, Chabahar port could be used as a point from where humanitarian operations could be coordinated.
International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC)It envisions a 7,200-km-long multi-mode network of ship, rail, and road routes for transporting freight, aimed at reducing the carriage cost between India and Russia by about 30% and bringing down the transit time from 40 days by more than half.INSTC project was originally decided between India, Iran, and Russia in 2000 in St Petersburg, and subsequently included 10 other central Asian and west Asian countries:Azerbaijan Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkey, Ukraine, Belarus, Oman, Syria, and Bulgaria are observers. The route primarily involves moving freight from India, Iran, Azerbaijan, and Russia. 

India-Iran relation:

1. Political relation-

  • India and Iran shared a border till 1947 and share several common features in their language, culture and traditions.. Independent India and Iran established diplomatic links on 15 March 1950.
  • The Iranian Revolution in 1979 introduced a new phase of engagement between India and Iran marked by exchange of high level visits.

2. Economic relation-

  • India-Iran economic and commercial ties have traditionally been buoyed by Indian import of Iranian crude oil.
  • India’s exports to Iran include petroleum products, rice, machinery & instruments, primary and semi finished iron & steel, pharma & fine chemicals, processed minerals, manmade yarn & fabrics, tea, agro chemicals, rubber, etc.
  • India and Iran are in discussions for the setting up of a number of projects such as the IPI gas pipeline project, Chabahar container terminal project etc.
  • In 2018, India and Iran signed an Agreement for the Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with respect to taxes on income.
  • India and Iran hold regular Indo-Iran Joint Commission Meeting (JCM) and Joint Business Council Meeting.

3.Cultural relation-

  • A MoU was signed in 2008 on holding of “Days of Culture” in two countries.
  • India over the years has emerged as one of the favourite tourist destinations for Iranian tourists and every year around 40,000 Iranians visit India for various purposes.

4. Strategic relation:

  • It revolves around projects like Chabahar port, INSTC, Zaranj- Delaram Highway etc.
  • India sees Iran as a gateway to Central Asia. Iran sees India as a hedge against Western countries and as a diversifying portfolio for its oil buyers.

India’s strategic vision for Chabahar:

  • When the first agreement for Chabahar was signed by then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in 2003, the plan had a three-fold objective:
  1. to build India’s first offshore port and to project Indian infrastructure prowess in the Gulf;
  2. to circumvent trade through Pakistan, given the tense ties with India’s neighbour and build a long term, sustainable sea trade route;
  3. and to find an alternative land route to Afghanistan, which India had rebuilt ties with after the defeat of the Taliban in 2001.
  • Subsequently, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s government constructed the Zaranj -Delaram Highway in Afghanistan, which would help connect the trade route from the border of Iran to the main trade routes to Herat and Kabul, handing it over to the Karzai government in 2009.
  • In 2016, Prime Minister Narendra Modi travelled to Tehran and signed the agreement to develop Chabahar port, as well as the trilateral agreement for trade through Chabahar with Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani.
  • In the last few years, a fourth strategic objective for the Chabahar route has appeared, with China’s Belt and Road Initiative making inroads in the region.
  • The government hopes to provide Central Asia with an alternate route to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) through Iran for future trade.
  • Speaking a few days earlier on the occasion of a “Chabahar Day” function in Mumbai, Mr. Sonowal said that it is India’s vision to make the Shahid Beheshti port a “a transit hub” and link it to the International North South Trade Corridor (INSTC), that also connects to Russia and Europe.

Delay in the chabahar port project:

  • Since the beginning, the development of the Shahid Beheshti terminal in Chabahar as well as surrounding infrastructure has hit geopolitical road-block after road-block due to the following reasons:
  • Iran’s relationship with western countries, especially the United States. In years when western sanctions against Iran increased, the Chabahar project has been put on the back-burner, while in the years when nuclear talks that resulted in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in 2015 came into being, the Chabahar port has been easier to work on.
Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, known commonly as the Iran nuclear deal, is an agreement on the Iranian nuclear program reached in Vienna on 14 July 2015, between Iran and the P5+1 together with the European Union. Under the deal, Iran agreed to significantly cut its stores of centrifuges, enriched uranium and heavy-water, all key components for nuclear weapons. Iran also agreed to implement a protocol that would allow inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to access its nuclear sites to ensure Iran would not be able to develop nuclear weapons in secret. While the West agreed to lift sanctions related to Iran’s nuclear proliferation, other sanctions addressing alleged abuses of human rights and Iran’s ballistic missile programme remained in place. The US committed to lifting sanctions on oil exports, but continued to restrict financial transactions, which have deterred international trade with Iran.
  • In 2018, the U.S. Trump administration put paid to India’s plans by walking out of the JCPOA and slapping new sanctions on dealing with Iran. This led to the Modi government “zeroing out” all its oil imports from Iran, earlier a major supplier to India, causing a strain in ties.
  • Despite the fact that the U.S. made a special “carve-out” on sanctions for Chabahar, on the ground, it has been difficult to source equipment for the port construction from infrastructure companies that continue to fear secondary sanctions, as well as to engage shipping and insurance companies for trade through Chabahar.
  • The Modi government also snapped ties with Afghanistan after the Taliban takeover in August 2021, which put an end to the humanitarian aid of wheat and pulses that was being sent to Kabul via Chabahar. When India restarted wheat aid to Afghanistan this year, it negotiated with Pakistan to use the land route instead.


  • With the government now reopening the Indian Embassy in Kabul, and establishing ties with the Taliban government, it is possible that the Chabahar route will once again be employed, another reason for the recent flurry of activity at the Iranian port terminal that India has pinned so many hopes on.
  • Completion of chabahar port project will give a boost to Indian strategic interest and objectives in the region.


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