As an article in the Washington Post recently pointed out, India is overhauling its homeland security, and U.S. companies are vying for its business.
This story makes all kinds of sense for all kinds of reasons. The strategic partnership between the United States and India has been growing for several years. First, the countries share a common cause on many fronts, especially on battling terrorism. LeT, the terrorist group that organized the 2008 attack on Mumbai, has also threatened to strike at the United States.
Second, India needs help. Indian law enforcement, as one expert told me, “is best prepared to deal with touts and pickpockets.” Reform at the frontline, where most terrorist attacks are stopped, is desperately needed. The United States has a lot of technology and expertise to share. On the other hand, India has a lot to offer as well, with one of the fastest growing information technology sectors in the world. The White House should use India’s quest for new and more robust counterterrorism capabilities to further strengthen the strategic partnership between the two countries.
One opportunity to build U.S.-Indian CT cooperation would be to “internationalize” the SAFETY Act. After 9/11, the U.S. Congress established one potential instrument: The Support Anti-Terrorism by Fostering Effective Technologies (SAFETY) Act. The SAFETY Act lowered the liability risks of manufacturers that provide products and services used in combating terrorism. The act, passed in 2002, protects the incentive to produce products that the Secretary of Homeland Security designates as “Qualified Anti-Terrorism Technologies.”
The Department of Homeland Security has made a concerted effort to implement the program, and, as of 2009, about 200 companies have obtained SAFETY Act certification. DHS and the State Department should work to engage India in a serious dialogue on expanding the umbrella of liability protection for effective anti-terrorism technologies. India should be encouraged to establish a similar program. The United States and India should then agree on common standards and establish reciprocity, so the certification granted by one nation is accepted by the other.