India to Set Up Automatic Monitoring of Communications

By John Ribeiro

IDG News Service — India plans
to set up a centralized system
to monitor communications on
mobile phones, landlines and
the Internet in the country,
a minister told the
Rajya Sabha,
the upper house
of Parliament, on Thursday.

Indian laws allow the interception
and monitoring of communications
under certain conditions,
including to counter terrorism.

A pilot of the new Centralized
Monitoring System (CMS) is
to be started by June next year,
subject to clearances by
other government agencies,
Gurudas Kamat, Minister of
State for Communications and
Information Technology told
the Rajya Sabha, according to
an announcement by
the government's Press
Information Bureau.

The CMS will have central and
regional databases to help central
and state-level enforcement agencies
intercept and monitor communications,
the government said.

It will also have direct electronic
provisioning of target numbers
by government agencies without
any intervention from
telecom service providers, it added.

It will also feature analysis of
call data records and data mining
of these records to identify
call details, location details,
and other information of
the target numbers.

The current system used by
the government for call monitoring
can be easily compromised
because of the requirement of
manual intervention at many stages,
the minister said.

Interception using the new system
will also be instant, he added.

The statement by Kamat comes
on the anniversary of
a terrorist attack on a number
of sites in Mumbai, including
two premium hotels,
a railway station, and
a Jewish community center.

The terrorists are believed
to have used mobile communications
and the Internet extensively
to plan and execute their attacks.

The government brought into
force earlier this year
the Information Technology
(Amendment) Act 2008,
an amendment to an earlier law,
which broadened the
government's powers
to intercept and
monitor communications.

Some experts have argued that
the government should
set up an organization like
an ombudsman to ensure
that information collected
during surveillance
is not misused.

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Sent from Kigali, Rwanda

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