Mass surveillance in India

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Mass surveillance is the pervasive surveillance of an entire or a substantial fraction of a population.[1] Mass surveillance in India includes Surveillance, Telephone tapping, Open-source intelligence, Lawful interception, surveillance under Indian Telegraph Act, 1885, etc.

Indian Mass Surveillance Projects[edit]

India has been using many mass surveillance projects for many years. These include the following:

Aadhaar Project[edit]

Aadhaar project is managed by Unique Identification Authority of India and is considered to be the most draconian and endemic mass surveillance project of India by some legal experts.[2] Aadhaar project is still operating without any legal framework and Parliamentary oversight despite an assurance by Indian government in July 2014.[3]

Central Monitoring System Project[edit]

Central Monitoring System is a secret surveillance related project of India. The project is run by Centre for Development of Telematics that has recently been labelled as one of the top 3 worst online spies.[4] It is operating without any legal framework and parliamentary oversight.[5] The project is violative of privacy rights in India [6] in general and civil liberties protection of Indians in particular.[7] It does not require any court warrant or permission to engage in e-surveillance.[8] Even Vodafone has confirmed existence of secret wires in Indian telecom infrastructures for illegal e-surveillance in India.[9] Some believe that the central monitoring system is part of this scheme and Indian government has failed to give suitable justifications and clarifications in this regard till now.[10]

DRDO Netra[edit]

DRDO NETRA is another mass surveillance project of India.[11] It has been developed by the Center for Artificial Intelligence & Robotics (CAIR) laboratory under the Defence Research and Development Organisation. The system could detect selective words like “bomb”, “blast”, “attack” or “kill” within seconds from emails, instant messages, status updates and tweets. The system will also be capable of gauging suspicious voice traffic on Skype and Google Talk.

Lawful Intercept And Monitoring Project[edit]

Lawful Intercept and Monitoring, abbreviated to LIM, is a clandestine mass electronic surveillance program deployed by the Centre for Development of Telematics (C-DOT), an Indian Government owned telecommunications technology development centre.[12] LIM systems are used by the Indian Government to intercept records of voice, SMSs, GPRS data, details of a subscriber's application and recharge history and call detail record (CDR) [13] and monitor Internet traffic, emails, web-browsing, Skype and any other Internet activity of Indian users. Mobile operators deploy their own LIM system which allows the government to intercept calls, after taking “due authorisation” in compliance with Section 5(2) of the Indian Telegraph Act read with Rule 419(A) of the IT Rules. The LIM system to monitor Internet traffic is deployed by the government at the international gateways of some large ISPs (between the ISPs Internet Edge Router (PE) and the core network). These surveillance systems are under complete control of the government, and their functioning is secretive and unknown to the ISPs.[12]

Natgrid Project[edit]

National Intelligence Grid is the integrated intelligence grid developed by CDAC-Pune connecting databases of core security agencies of the Government of India.[14] NATGRID has recently received a major setback when banks in India refused to give a direct access to NATGRID for bank’s customer database.[15]

Telecom Enforcement Resource and Monitoring Project[edit]

Telecom Enforcement Resource and Monitoring (TERM), formerly known as Vigilance Telecom Monitoring (VTM), is the vigilance and monitoring wing of the Indian Department of Telecommunications (DoT). The main functions of TERM Cells are vigilance, monitoring and security of the network. Apart from this, TERM Cells also operate the Central Monitoring System and carry out other functions.

Foreign Mass Surveillance Projects In India[edit]

India has been collaborating with other countries for e-surveillance purposes. For instance, concerns have been raised that India and United States have been collaborating for doing e-surveillance in India.[16] Similarly, intelligence agencies like GCHQ and NSA have intercepted and stored webcam images of millions of innocent Internet users.[17] Even command and control servers for spy software FinFisher were found in India.[18] Involvement of foreign intelligence agencies for doing surveillance on behalf of Indian government cannot be ruled out in these circumstances.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Mass Surveillance Technologies". Electronic Frontier Foundation. Retrieved 26 August 2014. 
  2. ^ "Aadhaar In Its Present Form Has No Welfare Elements Attached To It Whatsoever But Is An E-Surveillance Project". Privacy Laws In India And Privacy Rules And Regulations In India. 3 August 2014. Retrieved 26 August 2014. 
  3. ^ "Aadhaar Project And UIDAI May Be Backed By A Legislation To Give It Legitimacy And Legal Sanctity". Civil Liberties Protection In Cyberspace. 14 July 2014. Retrieved 26 August 2014. 
  4. ^ "Forget NSA, India's Centre for Development of Telematics is one of top 3 worst online spies". India Today. 12 March 2014. Retrieved 26 August 2014. 
  5. ^ "Central Monitoring System (CMS) Of India". Civil Liberties Protection In Cyberspace. 6 May 2013. Retrieved 26 August 2014. 
  6. ^ "Privacy Laws In India And Privacy Rules And Regulations In India". Privacy Rights In India And Privacy Rights In The Information Era And Internet. 14 February 2013. Retrieved 26 August 2014. 
  7. ^ "Civil Liberties Protection In Cyberspace". Human Rights Protection In Cyberspace. 20 June 2009. Retrieved 26 August 2014. 
  8. ^ "Why Indian Central Monitoring System Is Dangerous And How It works?". Civil Liberties Protection In Cyberspace. 9 May 2013. Retrieved 26 August 2014. 
  9. ^ "Vodafone Confirms Existence Of Secret Wires For Government E-Surveillance And Eavesdropping Worldwide". Cyber Law, Cyber Security, Telecom Laws And Telecom Security Legal Due Diligence And Statutory Compliance Services In India. 6 June 2014. Retrieved 26 August 2014. 
  10. ^ "Indian Department Of Telecommunications Would Investigate Govt Snooping Allegations By Vodafone". Cyber Law, Cyber Security, Telecom Laws And Telecom Security Legal Due Diligence And Statutory Compliance Services In India. 18 June 2014. Retrieved 26 August 2014. 
  11. ^ "Internet Spy System Network And Traffic Analysis System (NETRA) Of India Proposed". Civil Liberties Protection In Cyberspace. 17 December 2014. Retrieved 26 August 2014. 
  12. ^ a b "Govt. violates privacy safeguards to secretly monitor Internet traffic". The Hindu. 9 September 2013. Retrieved 26 August 2014. 
  13. ^ "Govt sets norms for lawful interception and monitoring". The Indian Express. 17 February 2012. Retrieved 26 August 2014. 
  14. ^ "National Intelligence Grid (Natgrid) Project Of India". Virtual Legal Education Campus In India And Techno Legal E-Learning Centre Of PTLB. 4 October 2014. Retrieved 26 August 2014. 
  15. ^ "Banks In India Refuse To Give Direct Access To Natgrid To Their Data Base And Customers Details". Privacy Laws In India And Privacy Rules And Regulations In India. 4 August 2014. Retrieved 26 August 2014. 
  16. ^ "Are India And United States Collaborating On Illegal And Unconstitutional E-Surveillance And Eavesdropping?". Privacy Laws In India And Privacy Rules And Regulations In India. 26 June 2014. Retrieved 26 August 2014. 
  17. ^ "GCHQ And NSA Intercepted And Stored Webcam Images Of Millions Of Innocent Internet Users". Privacy Laws In India And Privacy Rules And Regulations In India. 28 February 2014. Retrieved 26 August 2014. 
  18. ^ "Command And Control Servers For FinFisher Found In 36 Countries Including India". Centre Of Excellence For Cyber Security Research And Development In India (CECSRDI). 7 May 2013. Retrieved 26 August 2014.