The Indian government has asked ISPs and telcos to install indigenously developed monitoring equipment to increase internet surveillance, reports The Economic Times. According to the report, the equipment will be produced by government research agency C-DOT and will be used by government’s security agencies. The decision was taken at an inter-ministerial meet attended by officials of the telecom and IT ministries, C-DoT, Intelligence Bureau, representatives from the office of the Cabinet Secretary and Defence Research & Development Organisation.
Internal government documents, which ET claims to have reviewed, reveal that interception devices are to be installed at 71 locations and will allow the government to monitor 90% of the country’s internet traffic. The report also mentions that ISPs have been asked to prepare logs of their customers for services they use, for a period of six months.
This looks similar to the Home Ministry’s proposal to set up a Communications Monitoring facility for interception of all telephonic and mobile data communication, for which it had invited tenders. With ISPs being made responsible for maintaining logs, the government has again made intermediaries play a role in the interception process. They will have no option but to comply with the government’s mandate.
Earlier, we had also reported how India’s Home Ministry wanted social networking sites monitored, putting the onus of “ensuring effective monitoring of social networking websites like Facebook and Twitter in order to strengthen cyber security paraphernalia on the Department of Telecom.
Meanwhile, the Department of Telecom is also testing real-time interception of BlackBerry services after parent company RIM provided a solution to the government for intercepting it’s BlackBerry Messenger and email services, reports The Hindu Business Line. The report cites official sources and also adds that other agencies have also been asked to give their opinion on the same.
MediaNama readers would recall that R Chandrashekar, Secretary at the Department of Telecom, in an interview to a publication had said, that “All the services which use encryption in one form or the other are being looked at.” After BlackBerry, the government is expected to bring other services under its scanner.
The developments indicate that the Government’s plan to monitor all kinds of internet based communication is on track. We just hope that it ensures that there is no misuse, and that there are adequate safeguards provided to protect the rights of citizens.