Indian telecoms have all agreed to the licensing agreement which has a clause about making all calls/traffic available for a central monitoring system. It wasn’t really questioned a lot because such a central monitoring system was not developed properly (?)
But a recent report on Tehelka suggests that this system is now ready and was pilot tested in the state capital - Delhi.
According to the article:
- It was the Mumbai terror attack of 2008 that gave the Government the idea of setting up platforms for interception and monitoring of e-communication. (Parallels in NSA’s 9/11 justification of PRISM)
- Development was done by C-DoT and pilot testing in Delhi was complete by 2011
- There is no parliamentary sanction for the 400 crore project (despite two different governments being in power)
- The interception is illegal and circumvents the existing laws that require due approval of Home Secretary for phone tapping and maximum of 60 days of interception as per IT Act. Sharing of databases between agencies like Income Tax, Enforcement Directorate, Central Bureau of Investigation, etc is also illegal.
- Under the national roll-out, as of today, two central monitoring centres at Delhi and Bengaluru and 14 out of 21 RMCs will track data from servers of all 195 locations. Also, ISP monitoring system was expected to be ready at 45 out of 50 locations by 2012 itself.
- There are no checks and balances on how CMS is used.
Recently C-DoT launched cheap, long-distance wifi/broadband technologies in India and this must now be seen with a question of privacy looming over it.
All the arguments that NSA have been using to defend PRISM is being used by Indian agencies too. But there is no Indian Snowden yet. The question now is whether we will wait till a Snowden emerges to raise our voices against this. And the Indian democracy might not be strong enough to withstand the implications of a properly misused monitoring system.