The Indian government is all set to upgrade its internet surveillance system with a new system launch called Netra, developed by the Centre for Artificial Intelligence & Robotics (CAIR), a lab under Defence Research & Development Organization (DRDO).
According to ET, Netra is defence ministry’s internet spy system that will be capable of detecting words like ‘attack’, ‘bomb’, ‘blast’ or ‘kill’ from reams of tweets, status updates, emails, instant messaging transcripts, internet calls, blogs and forums. The system will have the capability of capturing any dubious voice traffic passing through software such as Skype or Google Talk. In other words, it is a system that would be tracking or monitoring sensitive keywords over the internet.
Sharing further on the development, a note from the telecom department stated that, “Intelligence Bureau and Cabinet Secretariat are currently testing ‘Netra’, which will be deployed by all national security agencies.” Further to it the note said, “The specifications of the ‘Netra’ system can be taken as frozen following tests by the Intelligence Bureau and Cabinet Secretariat, and can be considered for providing multiple user access to security agencies.”
The decision to deploy the new Internet spy system was discussed by an apex inter-ministerial group headed by DoT’s member (technology) and included top officials of the Cabinet Secretariat, home ministry, DRDO, CAIR, Intelligence Bureau, C-DoT and Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In).
To expedite the deployment, the home ministry has decided to approach DRDO to allocate additional manpower resources to the Bangalore based CAIR, which is also working with the government’s telecom technology arm, Centre Development of Telematics (C-DoT) to formalize a strategy for tracking internet use.
Moreover with the deployment of Netra the government is hoping to have a national internet scanning & coordination centre, a department that is already existing in countries like UK, US, China and Iran.
Netra is an upgrade to the government’s existing internet surveillance plans with the ‘Centralized Monitoring System’ that is already monitoring online activities of netizens. However, systems like this are just one of the pieces of the internet surveillance puzzle since for removal of content the government will either have to put pressure on the social media and internet companies or push them to set up local servers in the country.