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‘US, UK hacking of SIM manufacturer’s data, a security threat’

The reported hacking into the data of a large SIM card manufacturer by US and British intelligence agencies poses a national security threat as majority of phones in India may have SIMs of that company, a Rajya Sabha member said.

Raising the issue during Zero Hour, K C Tyagi (JD-U) said American and British spy agencies have hacked into the data base of Dutch company Gemalto, one of the largest SIM card manufacturers.

Gemalto’s SIM cards are widely used in India including by bureaucrats and the defence establishment, he said, adding that the government’s decision to link Aadhaar data base with SIM cards could potentially compromise strategic information.

He said the issue poses a major national security threat.

Raising another issue, M P Achuthan (CPI) said demanded setting up a Rs 1,000 crore fund for rehabilitation of workers returning from the Middle East.

He said while the popular perception of NRIs is of wealthy Indian living abroad, majority of those residing in the Middle Eastern countries were low-income labourers who are forced to return to their homeland because of localisation policy of the Gulf nations.

But there was no rehabilitation programme for them, either of the Centre or of state governments, Achuthan said.

In Kerala, 40,000 applications were received for receiving government support but only 200 could get subsidy, he claimed and demanded that Rs 1,000 crore be allocated for rehabilitation of the workers returning to the country.

He also demanded that Air India should reduce its exorbitant fares particularly during holiday season to make air travel affordable.

Dilip Kumar Tirkey (BJD) raised the issue of non- availability of avenues for higher education to tribals and demanded opening of branch of Central Tribal University in Odisha. He also sought upgradation of Ashram Schools for tribals till the graduation level.

A V Singh Deo (BJD) wanted higher penalties and strict action against those exploiting poor labourers from states like Odisha and holding them as bonded labour.

The existing legal framework is not enough and strict legal mechanism is needed to take action against middle men, he said.

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