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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The biggest democracy spends billions to spy on its citizens ….

India’s telecom sector is mired with scandals costing telecom minister his job.  He is accused of awarding licenses in a non-transparent manner to those who did not qualify. According to the report of CAG of India, the scandal could cost $39 billion to the Indian taxpayers. As if this was not enough, India's department of telecom (DoT) has proposed to build a 5.4 billion rupee ($122.3m) centralized surveillance system for all the nation's telecom platforms. It shows how a security state has to throw away taxpayers money on spying on their telephone calls. So much for the so-called largest democracy. The DoT has prepared a detailed proposal for the centralized monitoring system (CMS), consisting of a national hub coordinating with regional monitoring centers throughout the nation.

The proposal, seen by the Economic Times, states that the system would be responsible for lawful interception, monitoring and analysis of telecom signals, as well as detection of grey market telecom operations. Capabilities would include crypto-analysis, voice recognition, grid surveillance and decryption. Under the present system, interception and surveillance requests are first cleared by a court, and then sent to operators to handle. But the data collected is susceptible to leaks, and some operators do not have the required systems in place to effectively collect data.

The government has desired for years to implement an improved monitoring system, after terrorists used international phone lines, that India lacked the capacity to intercept, to plan the 2008 attacks in Mumbai. The desire to improve lawful interception capabilities led the government to threaten to ban BlackBerry services in India, until RIM came up with a partial solution that has now been implemented by the nation's mobile operators. But security officials are said to be less than satisfied with the solution, so a centralized, high-tech system could help finally resolve the issue.

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