The media is quite excited to write about the whereabouts of Edward Snowden. It also talks about how monitoring systems like Prism has recoined the phrase – “Online privacy is a myth.” But it is strange that very few of them are speaking about India’s Prism – Centralized Monitoring System (CMS).
Surprisingly, Chief Minister of West Bengal has addressed the issue in one of her latest Facebook post. The page is followed by more than 312K people who got a surprise from Mamata yesterday. The article reported by Firstpost stated that she had shared her views along with a screen grab from a Hindu article. The Hindu article was highlighting how lethal could be the CMS.
In her post, she updates about the system and how CMS will enable the Government and its agencies unfettered access in real time to any mobile and fixed line phone conversation, SMS, fax, website visit, social media usage, Internet search and emails, including partially written emails in draft folders of target accounts. Besides this she raise a bunch of questions and also highlights that the CMS will be against our constitutional right to freedom of speech and expression under Article 19(1)(a). The entire content of the post is shared below:
Reports reveal that this UPA-II Government is in the process of developing a system called Centralized Monitoring System (CMS) by C-DoT that will enable the Government and its agencies unfettered access in real time to any mobile and fixed line phone conversation, SMS, fax, website visit, social media usage, Internet search and emails, including partially written emails in draft folders of target accounts.
Experts feel that these capabilities could be as lethal and intrusive as the highly controversial PRISM project.
The plan is to launch it in Kolkata, Karnataka and Kerala. By March, 2014, the aim is to cover about 12 states.
Why the UPA-II Government is developing an autocratic system of surveillance and monitoring to secure interception of telephonic conversation in all forms?
Will it be targeted to silence the opposition in general, and politicians and others in particular? Who will authorize or decide on selection of targets?
Will not this intrusion make our Constitutional right to freedom of speech and expression under Article 19(1)(a) a mockery?
In a federal and democratic system of our country, will it be proper to move ahead with such a draconian means without consulting the political parties or without discussing the matter in the Parliament?
There are many more questions than answers in mind. I thought of sharing this information with all of you so that you become aware of the project and generate your questions and opinion on it.
The post has got more than 279 shares, another 286 people have commented and more than 1000 have liked the post. Interestingly, comments have a mixed response with most of them getting surprised by such a development and the rest blaming the party politics.
Whatever be the political reasons, it is for the first time a politician has voiced her opinion on the draconian nature of CMS, unlike Minister of State with the Ministry of Information Technology and Communications and the Minister of State, Milind Deora who had justified the need for CMS stating that it will help in protecting individual privacy from telecom companies. The visiting US Secretary of State John Kerry also stated that Prism is being misunderstood.
But the 400 crore CMS which started functioning from 2013 under the Congress led UPA government does raise some big questions, especially in a country where there is no privacy law and has witnessed numerous instances where the IT Act 66A was misused for trivial issues in the past.
It is good to see Mamata Didi asking them otherwise looking at the speed of work that is being done for the CMS, I won’t be surprised if it is ready well before the Lok Sabha elections due in 2014.