Think before you tweet or update your Facebook status is now an old saying. Today you should think before you browse on the Internet. In a latest disclosure, the Government wants to keep a track or monitor your Internet user behaviour in the name of national security. To implement this, The Department of Telecom (DoT) is planning to make it mandatory for telecom and Internet service providers to store data records of all subscribers. (News Source: Business Line)
A committee that has been set up by the DoT to take the decision further, has advised the telecom companies to maintain usage log of subscribers using the Internet Protocol Detail Record (IPDR) standards. Currently telecom operators are required to store call records of voice calls only. For data traffic, operators are required to allow security agencies access to intercept whenever required.
However, the committee that has asked to use IPDR standards –a system that tracks the usage pattern and allows security agencies to track connections that mask their IP address, has missed out a key thing that is mentioning the time period for which the record has to be kept. A thought shared by Rajesh Chharia, President, Internet Service Providers Association, while talking on the feasibility of the mandatory Internet monitoring.
Concerns against such measures of monitoring
But, having systems like this raises issues around privacy. It is a well known fact that IPDR standards allow operators to gather usage 95 per cent faster than other methods but at the same time it also allows telecom operators to look at improving revenues by analysing the data consumption pattern of individual users. And what is the guarantee that this data would not be sold in the grey market. An existing problem that the common man is already facing. You apply for a loan at one bank and within a week you start getting calls from all other banks, loan departments, credit card companies and others. One wonders who sold their number.
And ‘what if government bodies start collecting information about rival political parties’, could be also a valid concern. The 2G scam that was discovered only after income-tax department legitimately tapped the Niira Radia tapes, which were some how leaked to the media. A Supreme Court hearing is pending in this matter and no one has been held accountable for illegal leaks in this case, a valid point made by Firstpost.
Social media monitoring is already happening and this initiative comes at a time when the country is thinking of banning porn due to the increase of rapes and sexual molestation cases. However, I am yet to see a concrete initiative where the Government has started interesting campaigns on social media to connect with the youth. We have a Twitter account from PMO department that works like a PR mechanism and most of the politicians get active when they inch closer to elections. In fact the politicians are yet to consider social media as a serious medium and they keep debating that social media is full of trolls and people on them are not the ones who will vote offline.
So, after making plans to control and monitor social media now the Government wants to monitor your Internet activities. Do think before you click on a site as big brother is watching you from behind the firewall.
Image courtesy: Firstpost