Indian Government’s version of Prism, the ‘Centralised Monitoring System’ is growing day by day. According to a report published by Firstpost, the government is likely to install Centralised Monitoring System in 10 out of the country’s 22 service areas. Explaining further the site quoted that,
“The government has decided to set up a CMS for lawful interception monitoring which will facilitate the direct electronic provisioning of target number…without any manual intervention from telecom service providers. It may take some more time, say December 2013, to commission CMS in 10 service areas.”
Talking to Firstpost, the official source added that most of the research work has been completed and Center for Development of Telematics has installed two servers — one at state-run MTNL and the other one at TCIL under the pilot project. However the source did not disclose names of the service areas where the system would be installed.
Indian Governments justification on CMS
In fact we had recently revealed that in addition to tracking the call details, the Government is also working on tracking exact location details of people during their call.
The blanket monitoring of people on their location details finds its genesis in a DoT order issued in May 2011. However, its effect on the ground should be visible from mid- 2014. Besides this, the directive issued by DoT states that during the first year telecom operators should achieve 80 percent accuracy but later during the second year it should improve to 95 percent. Interestingly, there has been no mention of rural areas.
It is also being said that initially these details will only be provided for specific mobile devices but later on the entire thing would be a part of the CDR (call data record) for all mobile calls in a time frame of three years. Eventually all these data would form a part of the CMS.
However, The Indian Government is justifying the move, in the name of national concern. In a recent Google Plus Hangout, Minister of State, Communications & IT and Shipping Milind Deora had justified the move and elaborated that the CMS in fact will help in saving privacy from telecom companies.
But the other side of the story is that with CMS in place, security agencies will no longer need to seek a court order for surveillance. Indeed the power comes into the hands of officials but what happens when it starts getting misused for opportunistic means.
Concerns have been raised by an International NGO Human Rights Watch. Criticizing the Indian Government move on CMS Cynthia Wong, senior Internet researcher added that,
“The Indian government’s centralized monitoring is chilling, given its reckless and irresponsible use of the sedition and Internet laws. New surveillance capabilities have been used around the world to target critics, journalists, and human rights activists.”
But it is unlikely that the Government of India is going to rethink on its strategy of monitoring Indian citizens in the name of national concern. And when the US has already justified its Prism then the chances are really bleak.
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