Monthly Archives: August 2014

E-Surveillance Projects Of India Need Parliamentary Oversight And Judicial Scrutiny

Praveen Dalal-Managing Partner Of Perry4Law And CEO Of PTLBThe National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID) Project of India is an intelligence related project of Indian Government that is intended to give Intelligence Agencies a “Centralised Access” to information of Indian Citizens/Residents. It is part and parcel of other Centralised E-Surveillance Projects of India like Central Monitoring System (CMS) Project of India, Internet Spy System Network and Traffic Analysis System (NETRA) of India, Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and Systems (CCTNS) Project of India, Aadhaar Project of India, etc. All these Projects are operating without any Legal Framework and without any Parliamentary and Judicial Scrutiny.

Although the BJP Government has not decided about the fate of National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC) of India yet it is supporting the NATGRID project. BJP seems to be following the Congress tradition of Non Transparency and Non Accountability regarding Law Enforcement Agencies and Intelligence Agencies of India. Conferring any sort of Legal Immunity upon such Agencies would further complicate the scenario.

It is not the case that BJP Government is not aware of these circumstances. However, BJP has preferred not to take any action in this regard and this may create serious “Constitutional Issues” in the near future. Indian Citizens, Organisations and Entities are also well within their “Constitutional Rights” to refuse to cooperate with these e-Surveillance Projects as a compliance with illegal demands of projects like NATGRID, CCTNS, CMS, NETRA, Aadhaar, etc would  make them liable for various Civil and Criminal Liabilities. Similarly, Privacy Rights in India and their violations would also raise serious “Legal and Constitutional Issues”.

Recently Banks in India refused Aadhaar based authentication for banking purposes. Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has also postponed the implementation of biometric authentication for credit card swipe machines and ATMs due to protest by Banks of India. Now Banks in India refused to give direct access to NATGRID Project of its Customer’s Details.

Indian Laws and Polices are heavily leaning in favour of Illegal E-Surveillance, Phone Tapping and Eavesdropping. For instance, there is an urgent need to repeal the Telegraph and Cyber Law of India. There is also an urgent need to formulate a Lawful and Constitutional Interception Law of India as Phone Tapping in India is widely done in an Illegal and Unconstitutional Manner. E-Surveillance Policy of India is also required to be formulated that can specify the modes, manner and scope of E-Surveillance in India.

The Telecom Policy of India and Telecom Security Policy of India must also be aligned with the Constitutional Protections and must be clean from E-Surveillance Oriented Approach. India’s International E-Surveillance Collaborations must be subject to “Constitutional Restrictions and Judicial Scrutiny”. India has been using Illegal E-Surveillance and Secret Wires to indulge in Surveillance related activities. Even the claim of investigation by Indian Department of Telecommunications (DOT) regarding Government Snooping Allegations by Vodafone proved to be a Sham and Façade only as no “Public report” has been shared by DOT and Indian Government in this regard so far. The matter seems to have been “Put Under the Carpet” forever.

Clearly Illegal E-Surveillance, Phone Tapping and Eavesdropping would continue to exist in BJP led regime and Indian Citizens must protect their Civil Liberties in Cyberspace and real space on their own.