Soon in December this year, India’s new surveillance program - Centralized Monitoring System (CMS) will be able to analyze all telecommunications and Internet communications in India by the government and its agencies.
This means that everything we say or text over the phone, write, post or browse over the Internet will be centrally monitored by Indian authorities. Law enforcement and government agencies intercept, monitor, and analyze communications in order to uncover leads and build the evidence needed to neutralize terrorism and crime.
Few days back, BlackBerry has given the necessary permissions for the Indian government to intercept messages sent from BlackBerry devices.
According to latest reports - Verint Systems, Israel's cyber intelligence solutions provider , are soon to get a contract from the Indian government to track encrypted communication services such as Gmail, Yahoo.mail, BlackBerry services, Skype and so on.
"Verint's leadership team recently met communications minister Kapil Sibal in Israel and indicated the company's desire to work with the government to intercept all forms of encrypted communications to address India's cyber security needs." The Economic Times writes.
The CMS was prepared by the Telecom Enforcement, Resource and Monitoring (TREM) and the Centre for Development of Telematics (C-DoT) and is being manned by the Intelligence Bureau.
About a year ago, the government had identified around 15 types of encrypted communications, which supposedly couldn’t be tracked by the Indian law enforcement agencies. Verint Systems will shortly co-ordinate with DoT's security wing and CERT-In teams to implement a customized interception solution.
The Controversial Verizon’s eavesdropping program is also run by Israeli firm called Verint. Verint’s interception systems have gone global since the late 1990s, and sales in 2006 reached $374 million (a doubling of its revenues over 2003). More than 5,000 organizations mostly intelligence services and police units in at least 100 countries today use Verint technology.
"Most western countries do not allow financial transactions on the internet through computers and mobile handsets if the encryption level is less than 128 bits. India on the other hand does not legally allow encryptions be-yond 40-bit on the grounds that its security agencies lack the technical wherewithal to monitor online data transfers when the coding is beyond that threshold."
Without any manual intervention from telecom service providers, CMS will equip government agencies with Direct Electronic Provisioning, filter and provide Call Data Records (CDR) analysis and data mining to identify the personal information and provide alerts of the target numbers.
These kinds of violations of privacy can have very dangerous consequences. How do law enforcement agencies expect to detect criminals and terrorists? How can they access our private online communications to define whether we are a terrorist or not?
No privacy legislation currently exists in India. The telephone tapping laws in India are weak and violate constitutional protections. Citizens must also demand that a strong Privacy Act be enacted.