Central Govt Taps Over 100,000 Phones a Year: Report
More than one lakh phone tapping orders are issued by the central government every year, but the total number of such interceptions can be of a 'staggering scale' after taking into account the directions from state governments, a new study has found.
The study, 'India's surveillance state', prepared on the basis of RTI replies given by the government, also found that 26 companies including foreign firms expressed interest in setting up Internet monitoring systems for the government.
These included companies offering "far more potent surveillance technologies including phone interception, social media network analysis and data mining and profiling".
The study was conducted by Software Freedom Law Centre, a non-profit legal services organisation, and was released at recently held Internet Governance Forum in Istanbul.
"On an average, more than a lakh of telephone interception orders are issued by the central government alone every year. On adding the surveillance orders issued by the State Governments to this, it becomes clear that India routinely surveills her citizens’ communications on a truly staggering scale," the 68-page report said.
The state surveillance of citizens' private communications is authorised by legislative enactments such as the Indian Telegraph Act and the Information Technology Act, which allow Indian law enforcement agencies to closely monitor phone calls, texts, e-mails and general Internet activity on a number of broadly worded grounds.
The issue of phone tapping has often led to controversies in India including in 2010, when tapped conversations of corporate lobbyist Niira Radia with businessmen, politicians and journalists got leaked. Only a few agencies in India are authorised to tap phones and a rigorous screening process is said to be in place for grant of such authorisations.
As per the report, Network Traffic Analysis (NETRA) storage servers will be installed at more than 1000 locations across India.
The Controller of Certifying Authorities uses Section 28 of the IT Act, an ambiguous provision, to collect user data from technology companies. An RTI request revealed that they have made 73 requests under this provision in 2011.
The report noted that Indian laws, policies and practices with respect to surveillance are not in conformity with International Human Rights law.
It highlighted the need for a legal framework that protects the privacy of individuals.
"Considering the entire array of surveillance systems that directly threaten the right to privacy of Indian citizens, an overarching Privacy Act, which specifically incorporates these principles and sets up an enforcement mechanism to ensure compliance is an immediate necessity," the report said.
Communications surveillance is currently permitted on a wide variety of broadly worded grounds including everything from protection of national security to prevention of spread of computer viruses.
The report noted that concentrated effort on the part of all stake holders in the surveillance regime, including government, industry, civil society and General public will serve to transform India's surveillance state from its current state of "opacity to one of transparency, trust and efficiency".
The surveillance regime in its current state needs to be made more transparent, and public trust in this regard must be rebuilt, which will not happen without a greater degree of public participation, it said.
"Finally, citizens must have a legislatively recognised right to privacy, the violation of which will entitle them to constitutional remedies," it added.
- Amma's Niece Deepa Launches Political Forum
- Modi To Face Love Challenge In 2019
- Kim Jong-Nam Was Killed By Lethal VX Nerve Agent
- 5 Crore Indians Suffer From Depression
- Wonderful, Precise And Very Cool: How Do Our Money Up-Chucking Machines Work?
- "I'm Only Passing Through" 10 Leonard Cohen Songs That You Must Listen To
- Blackout For NDTV Stirs The Media
- Daily Curator: The Dominion Of Misunderstood Men Over Headlines
- Daily Curator: Of Holes Being Poked Into The Bhopal Encounter And The Origins Of Chyawanprash
- Watch: Viral Video Has Man Lighting Up A Line Of Crackers Attached To His Mouth
- On Jayalalithaa's 69th Birth Anniversary, Niece Deepa Launches 'MGR AMMA Deepa Forum'
- Labourers In Haryana To Get Breakfast For Rs 5, Full Meal For Rs 10
- Modi's Voice Not Of A Roaring Lion, Feebler Than A Mouse, Says Rahul Gandhi
- Man Sitting On Indefinite Hunger Strike Gets Married At The Protest Site
- Over 400 Academicians From International Varsities Write Open Letter To JNU Vice Chancellor Over Recent Events
- Female Intruder From Pakistan Shot Dead, Another Arrested By The BSF
- MOST VIEWED
- MOST COMMENTED
- Boys In MP Forced To Dip Hands In Boiling Oil As 'Innocence Test', To Prove They Hadn't Stolen Mobile
- Hafiz Saeed Can Pose A Serious Threat To Nation, Says Pakistan's Defence Minister
- 5 Killed As Aircraft Smashes Into Melbourne Shopping Complex
- Nestle Sales Was Hit By Rs 100 Crore Post Demonetisation, Says Company Chairman