Monthly Archives: July 2013

Telecom Operators Of India Forced To Bear Some Cost Of E-Surveillance Project Of Indian Government

Telecom Operators Of India Forced To Bear Some Cost Of E-Surveillance Project Of Indian GovernmentThe pet e-surveillance project of India nick named as central monitoring system (CMS) project of India has recently been imposed upon Indians without any parliamentary oversight and legal framework.  Now the telecom operators have been taken into loop by apportioning a portion of the cost of CMS project to them.

According to the latest directions of Department of Telecommunications (DOT), telecom operators will soon have to share the burden with the central government in setting up of CMS project.

DOT intends to ensure this cooperation through modifying the existing telecom licences under which it will become mandatory for a service provider to provide connectivity up to the nearest point of presence of Multi Protocol Label Switching (MPLS) network of the CMS at its own cost in the form of dark optic fiber with redundancy. From the point of MPLS onwards the burden of handling the flow of information will lie on the government.

However, till now Indian government has done nothing to protect civil liberties of Indian citizens. It has done nothing at all to balance civil liberties and national security requirements in India and is inclining heavily towards order less e-surveillance. Even the national cyber security policy of India (NCSP) 2013 has failed to protect privacy rights of Indians. Indian government is also targeting subscribers of new SIM cards by proposing biometric based subscriber identification before a new SIM card is activated.

The CMS allows security agencies to intercept mails, messages and conversations over telecom networks without the current requirement of manual intervention of service providers. Further, in the absence of parliamentary oversight and judicial scrutiny there is no check and balances at all to prevent the abuse of CMS project. The only safeguard available to Indian citizens is to exercise the self defence in cyberspace by using technological means.

Home Ministry Comes Up With An Orwellian Idea Of Taking Biometric Data Before Activating A New SIM Card In India

Home Ministry Comes Up With An Orwellian Idea Of Taking Biometric Data Before Activating A New SIM Card In IndiaHome Ministry of India leaves no occasion to strengthen its e-surveillance arsenal from time to time. The latest to add to this list is the request from Home Ministry to the Department of Telecommunication (DOT) to explore the possibility of making it mandatory for cellphone service providers to take fingerprints or any other biometric feature of the subscriber before activating the mobile numbers.

Home Ministry has also suggested that DOT may also maintain a central database comprising biometric features of all subscribers and opt for linking it with the National Intelligence Grid (Natgrid) for keeping those data at one place from national security point of view.

The Central Monitoring System is already in operation without any parliamentary Oversight and legal framework. Even the national cyber security policy (NSCP) of India 2013 has failed to protect privacy rights and civil liberties in Indian cyberspace.

Similarly, the Unconstitutional Aadhaar project has already been challenged before various High Courts in India. Aadhaar project has serious cyber security and data security issues that are still unresolved. The truth is that biometric collection in India is done in an illegal and unconstitutional manner as on date.

In these circumstances tying up the SIM cards activation with biometrics details is another attempt of Indian government to expand its e-surveillance capabilities. The DOT had last year made it mandatory for a mobile service provider to physically verify an applicant before issuing a SIM card. But practical difficulties have forced non compliance with this requirement.

The present idea of using biometric details while activating a SIM card is one of the worst ideas that have been suggested for implementation and it is bound to be a big failure.