Indian Government Quietly Brings In Its 'Central Monitoring System': Total Surveillance Of All Telecommunications

from the what-about-the-checks-and-balances? dept

There's a worrying trend around the world for governments to extend online surveillance capabilities to encompass all citizens -- often justified with the usual excuse of combatting terrorism and/or child pornography. The latest to join this unhappy club is India, which has put in place what sounds like a massively intrusive system, as this article from The Times of India makes clear:

The government last month quietly began rolling out a project that gives it access to everything that happens over India's telecommunications network -- online activities, phone calls, text messages and even social media conversations. Called the Central Monitoring System, it will be the single window from where government arms such as the National Investigation Agency or the tax authorities will be able to monitor every byte of communication.
This project has been under development for two years, but in almost total secrecy:
"In the absence of a strong privacy law that promotes transparency about surveillance and thus allows us to judge the utility of the surveillance, this kind of development is very worrisome," warned Pranesh Prakash, director of policy at the Centre for Internet and Society. "Further, this has been done with neither public nor parliamentary dialogue, making the government unaccountable to its citizens."
That combination of total surveillance and zero transparency is a dangerous one, providing the perfect tool for monitoring and controlling political and social dissent. If India wishes to maintain its claim to be "the world's largest democracy", its government would do well to introduce some safeguards against abuse of the new system, such as strong privacy laws, as well as engaging the Indian public in an open debate about what exactly such extraordinary surveillance powers might be used for.

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Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Ninja (profile), May 9th, 2013 @ 9:03am

    If India wishes to maintain its claim to be "the world's largest democracy"

    One can claim anything. It's their actions that will bring weight or not to these claims. The US claim to be the land of the free...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
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    Rikuo (profile), May 9th, 2013 @ 9:54am

    Re:

    From Terry Goodkind's Sword of Truth series

    "Wizard's Fifth Rule
    “Mind what people do, not only what they say, for deeds will betray a lie.”
    ―Soul of the Fire: Chapter 28, page 205
    No matter what your affiliation is, either friend or foe, you should watch the person's actions instead of the lies that they use to deceive you."

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
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    Brett Skinner, May 9th, 2013 @ 10:09am

    SWOON

    This is like porn for the DHS, DOJ, NSA, FBI, etc.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
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    Zakida Paul (profile), May 9th, 2013 @ 10:11am

    Who the hell is going to do business with India after this?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 9th, 2013 @ 10:16am

    perhaps it should now be known as 'the world's largest failed democracy'? i cannot see how any country that is supposed to be a democracy can introduce any laws or rules such as this without it being done in a democratic manner. when the people know nothing about it, when there is no transparency, no discussion and, most importantly, no safeguards or accountability, the claim os democracy is a total joke. when this sort of thing happens, with public money paying for it, the government should make sure that everything they are doing is open to scrutiny. the only option the public has is to change things when the next election is due but then the lies of politicians can overpower reason and common sense very quickly!!

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 9th, 2013 @ 10:21am

    Hacking Indian citizens just got a lot easier

    It's no longer necessary to hack them: now it's only necessary to hack their government...which has historically been completely, totally, utterly incompetent when it comes to IT security. Not to mention that it has a deeply-embedded culture of corruption: it's common knowledge that everyone in any level of the Indian government can be bribed, usually quite cheaply. (The same could be said of Mexico, China, and Italy, by the way.)

     

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  7.  
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    Zakida Paul (profile), May 9th, 2013 @ 10:46am

    Re: Hacking Indian citizens just got a lot easier

    "which has historically been completely, totally, utterly incompetent when it comes to IT security."

    That could apply to any number of developed countries as well.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 9th, 2013 @ 10:54am

    I predict this will result in innocent people being picked up for angry outbursts. This will alienate the people from the government. Meanwhile ask Indira Gandi's ghost about security service reliability.

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 9th, 2013 @ 11:26am

    Erm... tech support for American companies... access to end users?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 9th, 2013 @ 11:55am

    Re:

    "Who the hell is going to do business with India after this?"

    The same people who would do business with them before. Abandoning personal freedoms and human rights hasn't stopped the USA, so why would it stop India?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), May 9th, 2013 @ 6:45pm

    Re: Hacking Indian citizens just got a lot easier

    So, they're not so different from the US, then.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
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    Anonymous, May 9th, 2013 @ 7:02pm

    Re:

    Well, somebody's got to staff the convenience stores, motels, and so-called "tech support" lines.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
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    Anonymous Howard (profile), May 10th, 2013 @ 4:38am

    New concept for the Internet

    It just happened to me, what if - by it's nature - the internet would be a sovereign entity in the world, with all of it's infrastructure, governing bodies etc.

    Then wiretapping someones connection would be like violating the sovereignty of a foreign "country".

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
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    Biboka, Jun 8th, 2013 @ 2:50am

    Privacy is dead

    Privacy is dead. This is the scariest thing the government has done. This Central Monitoring System Of India is extremely dangerous and violates civil liberties. What do we do now?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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