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

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14 Comments
Rikuo (profile) says:

Re: 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.”

Anonymous Coward says:

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!!

Anonymous Coward says:

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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