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National Cyber Coordination Centre: Govt’s online metadata scanning project is live

National Cyber Coordination Centre (NCCC), the government’s cyber security project which scans and records meta data on the Internet is live, according to P.P Chaudhary, Minister of State for Electronics and IT (Meity’s) reply to the Parliament. The NCCC received an in-principal approval from the Cabinet in May 2013, Hindustan Times reported at that time.  It “screens all forms of meta-data, ensure better coordination between various intelligence agencies and streamline intelligence gathering”, the report pointed out. The project costs Rs 500 crore and is implemented by Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In).

The types of data NCCC will look at

The NCCC can “actively” tie up with other cyber intelligence agencies to collect and share data to conduct surveillance, although, via lawful means. When it was proposed in 2015, it was a part of the National Information Board, the HT report said. But according to Minister Chaudhary’s reply, the NCC is now housed under the Meity instead.

The NCCC is limited to online and cyber intelligence and collects data through tie ups with other intelligence units. The government’s meta data scanner is likely to have access to:

  1. The National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID) which keeps all sorts of citizen data in a single database that can be accessed by officers from RAW, CBI, IB etc. NATGRID and NCCC were proposed under the same ministry initially and it’s likely that there is some amount of cross-data sharing. NATGRID has access to hold 21 categories of citizen database like bank account details, telephone records, passport data and vehicle registration details. NATGRID has access to this data in real-time and through tie up with various ministries and departments called provider agencies and 11  other intelligence and investigative agencies.
  2. The New Media Wing (NMW) and the Electronic Media Monitoring Centre (EMMC)—wings that are involved in media surveillance—housed under the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) are also involved in media surveillance and shares data with other intelligence units.
  3. The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) which is focused on national security matters, also shares and gathers information with the intelligence departments similar to NCCC and is also likely to be an information provider. The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), Intelligence Bureau (IB), the National Investigation Agency (NIA), the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) also come under the MHA [More on this here]. Data from these intelligence units are also likely to be picked by the NCCC.

Other projects looking into cyber surveillance

  • Cyber Swachhta Kendra: The Government’s malware and botnet cleaning center were set up in February this year. Named as ‘Cyber Swachhta Kendra’, the project has tie ups with ISPs, academia, banks and anti-virus companies to provide citizens with tools to protect data on laptops, computers and mobile phones.
  • Indian Cyber Coordination Centre’: In Decemebr 2015, the Government of India had plans to set up the ‘Indian Cyber Coordination Centre’ (I-4C), which helps in monitoring cyber crimes, offences such as child pornography, cyber bullying, as well as helping law enforcement agencies in curbing these crimes.

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