The Delhi Police wants to intercept emails, chats and social networking messages posted by suspects via their computers as well as through mobile phones. According to a report by The Times of India, the Delhi Police has floated a Global tender for procuring a ‘Lawful monitoring of Internet’ interception system which would be able to intercept targeted internet communications and would be controlled and run by the Delhi Police.
According to the tender (.doc) floated by the Delhi Police:
- The system should have the feature to intercept all defined and targeted Internet communications based on e-mail ids, Chat ids, IP address, keyword etc.
- It intends to establish one Central Monitoring Centre with two Remote Monitoring Centres: one at Lodhi Colony SpecialCell & one at Chanakya Puri, Crime Branch which would be connected with three main ISPs namely Reliance Communications, Bharti Infotel and BSNL.
- In the second phase, the hardware installed at the Central Monitoring Centre and the two Remote Monitoring Centres will be upgraded and the next three ISPs namely MTNL, Sify Ltd. and VSNL will be connected with Central Monitoring Centre.
- In the third and final phase, the hardware installed at the Central Monitoring Centre and the two Remote Monitoring Centres will be upgraded and the last three ISPs namely Spectranet, Net4India and Hathway Cables will be connected.
Presently the Police gains access to online accounts through the internet service providers and direct interception is only available to investigating agencies such as the NIA and Intelligence Bureau. With the new system, it will be able to intercept electronic communication directly without approaching the ISPs, however, according to another report, the Police will need the approval of the Home Secretary mentioning the reasons for interception before monitoring a particular ID.
National Security is undoubtedly of great importance, however the government and its agencies should not overlook concerns around civil liberty and privacy. The only concern as a citizen would be that interception is not misused and a judicial system that requires a court permission should be in place to prevent misuse, so that interception is in accordance with the law.