Indian Outsourcing Sector Sets Up Watchdog To Stamp Out Data Theft

A watchdog agency will certify companies.

India's booming services and software industry on April 23 announced that an independent watchdog has been setup to create a "global safe-deposit vault" to halt data theft such as credit card details. Shyamal Ghosh, chairman of the Self Regulatory Organization, said the watchdog will be independent of the industry's main lobby group, the National Association of Software and Service Companies or NASSCOM. "We will make it so critical (to join) that more companies would like to come in than stay out, as without accreditation it will be difficult to survive in the market," Ghosh told reporters.

The watchdog will certify that companies who voluntarily join the organization meet data security standards designed to prevent incidents such as in June last year when an employee of global banking giant HSBC in Bangalore was charged with siphoning off 230,000 pounds (US$460,000) from 20 British account holders. In September last year, a call center employee in eastern India was arrested for using the credit card details of customers to make on-line purchases. The incidents raised concern that India's outsourcing industry would be shunned by firms overseas concerned about data security.

Ghosh said membership to the watchdog will be offered only after the verification of working and security practices at the companies by independent specialists hired by the organization. "A single security breach is a breach too many and we want to bring it down to zero as the goal is to turn the Indian industry into a global safe deposit for data," NASSCOM President Kiran Karnik said.

NASSCOM predicts software and customer services outsourced to India will grow 25% annually to $60 billion, or nearly half of the global market, by 2010. The sector currently adds more than $17 billion to the Indian economy and directly employs 700,000 professionals

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2007

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