India rolls out 'unrestricted' spy programme

20 June 2013
By Tereza Pultarova
Mobile version
Share |
India's Central Monitoring System is completely unrestricted

India's Central Monitoring System is completely unrestricted

'Authoritarian' new Indian Central Monitoring System criticised for bypassing courts to monitor user activity seemingly without restriction.

A new monitoring regime deployed in India in April will enable security agencies to spy on citizens without any legal constraints or restrictions. Sources familiar with the project have revealed that the Central Monitoring System (CMS) will enable authorities to tap directly into phone conversations, emails and text messages, as well as monitoring posts on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn and tracking searches on Google.

The CMS was announced in 2011 with little accompanying information from the Indian government regarding the  specifics and the control mechanisms that would be put in place to prevent abuse. It has now been reported that it will eventually enable authorities to spy on anyone from India’s 900 million landline and mobile users or 120 million Internet users.

The country’s representatives say the sole purpose of the CMS is to protect the country against terrorism, and they remain adamant that disclosing details about the system would make the whole venture far less efficient. 

Human rights experts fear it may put innocent people at risk. "If India doesn't want to look like an authoritarian regime, it needs to be transparent about who will be authorised to collect data, what data will be collected, how it will be used, and how the right to privacy will be protected," said Cynthia Wong, an Internet researcher at New York-based Human Rights Watch.

India does not have anything like a formal privacy law in place, and the new surveillance system will simply operate under the Telegraph Act that was formulated in 1885 when the country was under British rule.

To back the new surveillance system, government data servers are currently being built on the premises of private telecommunications firms that will enable the security agencies to gain absolute freedom regarding whom they want to monitor. So far, they have had to seek court orders for surveillance, and were dependent on Internet or telephone service providers to give them data. The decision-making power as to who can or cannot be monitored will from now on be solely in the hands of the federal interior ministry.

"Bypassing courts is really very dangerous and can be easily misused," said Pawan Sinha, who teaches human rights at Delhi University. However, a senior telecommunications ministry official disagrees: "If at all the government reads your emails, or taps your phone, that will be done for a good reason. It is not invading your privacy, it is protecting you and your country," he said.

In 2012 India was, according to published information, the world’s second most active seeker of user data after the USA, sending over 4,700 requests to Google.

India's junior minister for information technology, Milind Deora, said the new data collection system would actually improve citizens' privacy because telecommunications companies would no longer be directly involved in the surveillance - only government officials would. Altogether nine government agencies will be authorised to make intercept requests, including the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), India's elite policy agency, the Intelligence Bureau (IB), the domestic spy agency, and the income tax department.

Latest Issue

E&T cover image 1606

"Where would Frankenstein and his creative mind fit into today's workplace? Should we fear technological developments or embrace them?"

E&T jobs

  • Nuclear Facilities Governance Manager

    BAE Systems
    • England, Cumbria, Barrow-In-Furness
    • Negotiable

    Nuclear Facilities Governance Manager Would you like to be accountable for all the Nuclear Governance for both existing day to day facilities on the Barrow Site in addition to the Proposed Facilities development which is part of the multi-million pound si

    • Recruiter: BAE Systems

    Apply for this job

  • Maritime Engineering Opportunities

    Defence Equipment & Support (DE&S)
    • Bristol
    • £30,424 - £35,285

    You will be working alongside a team of people who are immensely proud of what they do in providing the best possible service to our Armed Forces

    • Recruiter: Defence Equipment & Support (DE&S)

    Apply for this job

  • Engineering Manager

    BAE Systems
    • Hampshire, England, Portsmouth
    • Competitive package

    Would you like to play a vital role in managing and implementing the correct governance in order to enable BAE Systems to provide assurance and integrity of supply chain data? We currently have a vacancy for an Engineering Manager - Product Integrity

    • Recruiter: BAE Systems

    Apply for this job

  • Consultant Engineer - Test

    BAE Systems
    • Farnborough, Hampshire, England
    • Negotiable

    Consultant Engineer - Test Would you like to be a lead within an exciting team working on one of the UK's largest defence projects? We currently have a vacancy for a Consultant Engineer - Test at our site in Ash Vale. As a Consultant Engineer - Test, you

    • Recruiter: BAE Systems

    Apply for this job

  • Structural Designer

    BAE Systems
    • England, Barrow-In-Furness, Cumbria
    • Negotiable

    Structural Designer BAE Systems is looking to recruit multiple Structural Designers to join our Maritime Submarines unit to be based in our site in Barrow-in-Furness, as the Trident Replacement Programme progresses towards the start of the build stage in

    • Recruiter: BAE Systems

    Apply for this job

  • Mechanical Design Engineer

    BAE Systems
    • England, Hampshire, Portsmouth
    • Negotiable

    Mechanical Design Engineer Would you like to work in an interesting and challenging role with the chance to gain exposure to a number of maritime projects? We currently have a vacancy for a Mechanical Design Engineer at our site in Portsmouth. As a Design

    • Recruiter: BAE Systems

    Apply for this job

  • Operations Manager

    BAE Systems
    • England, Barrow-In-Furness, Cumbria
    • Negotiable

    Operations Manager We currently have an opportunity for an Operations Manager to join our Maritime - Submarines business area at our Barrow-In-Furness site. As the Operations Manager you will work within a Construction or Manufacturing Facility and be res

    • Recruiter: BAE Systems

    Apply for this job

  • Principal Chemist

    BAE Systems
    • Barrow-In-Furness, Cumbria, England
    • Negotiable

    Principal Chemist Would you like to play a key role in the safety and assurance of submarines for the Royal Navy? We currently have a vacancy for a Principal Chemist at our site in Barrow-in-Furness. As a Principal Chemist, you will be carrying out a rang

    • Recruiter: BAE Systems

    Apply for this job

  • Software Engineer

    BAE Systems
    • England, Hampshire, Portsmouth
    • Competitive package

    As a Software Engineer, you will be investigating how technology and data can be used to optimise the services we provide to our clients, including the Royal Navy, and will include unique pieces of equipment at the forefront of innovation.

    • Recruiter: BAE Systems

    Apply for this job

  • Principal Control Systems Engineer

    BAE Systems
    • England, Cumbria, Barrow-In-Furness
    • Competitive package

    As a Principal Engineer you will be responsible for the design and integration of control systems at a safety integrity level (SIL) 3. This will include requirements management, system design, and integration into the wider platform.

    • Recruiter: BAE Systems

    Apply for this job

More jobs ▶

Subscribe

Choose the way you would like to access the latest news and developments in your field.

Subscribe to E&T