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Privacy Cellphones Communications Your Rights Online

India To Have Automatic Communications Monitoring 96

angry tapir writes "India plans to set up a centralized system to monitor communications on mobile phones, landlines and the Internet in the country, a minister has told the Rajya Sabha, the upper house of Parliament. Indian laws allow the interception and monitoring of communications under certain conditions, including to counter terrorism. A pilot of the new Centralized Monitoring System (CMS) is to be started by June next year, subject to clearances by other government agencies."
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India To Have Automatic Communications Monitoring

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  • by JDeane ( 1402533 ) on Friday November 27, 2009 @02:52AM (#30243180) Journal

    Your call may be monitored for quality control purposes.

    • The overlords of spying welcome you now as one of the "advanced" countries of the world.
    • to ensure nobody can hear what the other side is saying...

  • Support (Score:5, Funny)

    by rhook ( 943951 ) on Friday November 27, 2009 @02:54AM (#30243196)
    I feel bad for whoever has to read the transcripts from all those tech support calls.
    • Me too. I wouldn't be surprised that "Automatic" in India meant someone getting paid $1 per day to listen to calls all day.
  • by brindafella ( 702231 ) <> on Friday November 27, 2009 @02:54AM (#30243198) Homepage
    At least we know that there will be a system like this. In many countries it is suspected, there's a "wink and a nod", someone says there's such a system, etc, but there's no proof. In India, there will be no doubt.
    • by Gopal.V ( 532678 ) on Friday November 27, 2009 @06:16AM (#30244136) Homepage Journal

      The Research & Analysis wing in India has always had significant electronic intelligence hardware and has always been looking for more funding & more engineers to work for them. I know in some sense that they are indeed working their things to let me live my life in some sort of passive ignorance. The thing that pisses me off about this is the day and time they decided to announce this.

      I haven't touched yesterday's copy of my paper (the hindu []), because it is very likely that the mass hysteria about the last year's terror attacks in Mumbai will overcome any real news that they have to say. I feel sad for the victims of the attack, but in the fight between the government and the terrorists (well, militants for the 90s people), the rights that really being eaten away are mine.

      So, pushing this legislature yesterday was an act of emotional blackmail on an entire country. To do this while they're still feeling vulnerable and to ensure that anyone opposing it will get vilified in the press.

      • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

        by BhaKi ( 1316335 )

        I haven't touched yesterday's copy of my paper (the hindu [])

        That explains why your post has anger rather than surprise. If you read the paper, you would be surprised that Hindu didn't report it, nor did any Indian news paper.

        • Re: (Score:1, Redundant)

          by BhaKi ( 1316335 )
          Why have I been modded troll? I have 'The Hindu' and 'Times of India' right beside my desk and neither of them reported it. A quick google search shows that the only people who first reported it is the IDG news and rest of the news world just copied it. And none of the news sites that turn up in the search are Indian. Call me troll or conspiracy theorist or whatever. I don't blame you because you are just a victim of the propaganda.
      • by nurb432 ( 527695 )

        So, pushing this legislature yesterday was an act of emotional blackmail on an entire country. To do this while they're still feeling vulnerable and to ensure that anyone opposing it will get vilified in the press.

        But its so damned effective in getting people to give up their rights and think it was a good idea.

        "So this is how democracy dies, not with a whimper but shouts and flag waving"

      • by dodobh ( 65811 )

        You assume that the time of release was a coincidence. It was not. Speaking of which, we need to switch to SSL and PGP for communication. KSP at FOSS.IN.

    • by Fred_A ( 10934 )

      At least we know that there will be a system like this. In many countries it is suspected, there's a "wink and a nod", someone says there's such a system, etc, but there's no proof. In India, there will be no doubt.

      It also shows that unlike many others, the Indians do not "think of the children".
      Todays children are the terr..., no, freedom figh... uh, ah yes, consumers of tomorrow ! Think of the children !

  • Spain has it too (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Look for "SITEL" in Spain, the actual government monitorizes the communications without judges control.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 27, 2009 @02:55AM (#30243202)

    For a country of 1 billion people where even the remotest of villages are obsessed with mobile phones, it is highly unrealistic to expect complete mobile monitoring. The money probably is much better spent in other more deserving development efforts. Add to that 26 official languages and thousands of regional dialects for which speech to text hasn't been properly researched yet, it is completely unresonable.

    Also, finding loopholes in such a huge system, I think wouldn't present a problem. A simple word substitution would do the trick?

    Plus the lack of privacy would probably mean the corruption in the government _will_ work against the idea. (Maybe high level politicos can wriggle out of it, but the rest?)

    • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
      Give the "siemens nokia" of this world the cash and you can have any deep packet inspection you wish. Narus for all :)
    • by icebike ( 68054 )

      The money probably is much better spent in other more deserving development efforts.

      It seems likely they are more interested in cross-boarder calls than from housewife to local market or mobile to mobile.

      I suspect these intercepts would be used for after-the-fact interdiction rather than prevention of terrorism. In such cases, having the conversations on hard drive or tape is more important than someone finding the odd word or phrase that signals an attack.

      As for the money being better spent, I submit that in this economy ANY spending by government is as useful as any other, and training p

      • by MrNaz ( 730548 ) *

        "As for the money being better spent, I submit that in this economy ANY spending by government is as useful as any other"

        Bollocks. Privatizationist bollocks. 900 billion dollar bailout package? Spending it any which way will be as good as any other?

        * Why not spend it on setting up a totally new energy infrastructure? Government and industry has for years been telling us that the tech is there, it's just a chicken or the egg problem, no fuel depots stock alternative fuel coz there are no alternative fuel car

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by icebike ( 68054 )

          * Why not spend it on setting up a totally new energy infrastructure?

          Ok, have you had time to take your meds yet?

          The amount of money required for India to set up a monitoring structure is in no way adequate to the task of setting up a totally new energy infrastructure.

          Nor was India involved in any way in a $900 billion bailout.

          If you won't read the article, and you won't read the summary, at LEAST read the TITLE where you will find the first word is INDIA.

    • by mxh83 ( 1607017 )
      I always find people who say "Why spend money on all this tech.. let's put food on the table for so many thousands" extremely naive and stupid. What's the point of giving all those things to those people if we're suddenly nuked? Is free food and clothing going to defend against terrorist plots? A country that helps the poor while others spend on space research, could look extremely stupid when 20 years down the line, it's dominated by others that put their monies in greener pastures. Also we need to expl
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by sznupi ( 719324 )

      Considering how, supposedly, the ratio of SMS to voice traffic is much higher in India and other developing economies, this isn't that far-fetched as it seems.

  • Priorities (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Ethanol-fueled ( 1125189 ) on Friday November 27, 2009 @02:55AM (#30243204) Homepage Journal
    So they want to spend the money and effort to roll this out while people are pissing and shitting on the streets in holes, and showering with buckets?!
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      True, but what's new here?! You are saying this as if other countries and governments are working with correct priorities. We don't have to go too far to see that.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by icebike ( 68054 )

      That hardly characterizes the majority of India.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Exactly how many people do you need shitting in holes and sleeping on bicycles on highway dividers until it becomes an attention worthy problem? You're probably right - this doesn't characterize the "majority" of people in india - only maybe 200m or so.

    • It's karma, bro! Shouldn't have been a douchbag in your past life...

      This is just a clear example of how "fighting terrorism" is merely used to justify any increase in surveillance on the populace. Actually giving a shit about the welfare of the individual citizens isn't even on the radar. That's why the argument is so useful, since it's up to each citizen to add "for my wellbeing" to "fighting terrorism"... they feel like they are agreeing with the given reason when they fill in the blank.

    • I've been to India. Some of the clearest cell reception I got was in this little wide-spot in the road in this little valley cradled in the foothills of the Himalayas. They had no police protection (for all the good that does you over there), they didn't have consistent electricity, they drew their water from the river and their idea of modern sanitation was a porcelain hole in the ground and not looking at the riverbanks where they dumped their garbage, but they had damn fine cell reception.

      That country's
      • by mxh83 ( 1607017 )
        Are you actually judging India by what you experienced in the Himalayas? How stupid are you? That's like judging US by visiting mountains and campgrounds.
        • No, I'm also judging it by what I saw in the cities and medium-sized towns scattered across the subcontinent. The little village was just a particularly poignant example for me.
      • Its the same all over the third world. For example it is considered normal in Malaysia to stack piles of household rubbish beside the road. This happens in towns and urban areas. I saw one otherwise idyllic fishing village on Pulau Langkawi with a huge pile of rotting garbage right on the road leading into the village.

        Every new generation will make some improvement as a few of their people soak up the norms from the first world countries. I don't think it has anything to do with the Government. Its just abo

        • Seen the same thing in Indonesia. It's partially what is considered the "norm" for people living there, but mostly the fact there is no organized municipal rubbish pickup - whether privately run or public - so people just dump trash anyplace that seems handy.
      • The telecommunication services are in good shape because people want it, and its "what PEOPLE want drives the market and services". Telecommunication in india is not driven by a government agencies (yeah it is monitored by TRAI so that consumers don't get screwed by companies like, i think, is the case in US) so whats your point about priorities problem with higher-ups ?
    • by 8086 ( 705094 )
      'Showering' with buckets is actually not that bad. You end up saving a lot of water that way, and you can control the water's temperature more easily (as opposed to having to constantly adjust the hot/cold knob). I used to do it.
    • So, are you saying there should be no investment in defence or counter-terrorism or space programs just because people are (quoting you) "pissing and shitting on the streets"? One Idea is that Investing in security will create a safe environment that will create jobs that will eventually decrease poverty ( I guess a more dignified way to put it? )
    • If you meet anybody from India ask him for his CASTE to let him know that your country is concerned about RACISM in India.
  • by canadian_in_beijing ( 1234768 ) on Friday November 27, 2009 @02:56AM (#30243208) Homepage
    Kind of interesting seeing India go into spheres of protectionism like China`s firewall... early stages Sounds like a major blow to the Indian outsourcing industry. What major company would want any government organization intercepting their business. Back doors implemented by the government are never good for the consumer or general Indian population.
    • by MrNaz ( 730548 ) * on Friday November 27, 2009 @04:46AM (#30243690) Homepage

      If they were worried about their business being intercepted they'd not hire 100 foreign nationals to carry out their business on foreign soil.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by the_womble ( 580291 )

        Outsources are mostly not governments. If you are a private sector business, there is not particular reason to think foreign nationals are less trustworthy than your own.

        A lot of outsources are multinationals, so the idea of foreign nationals is not necessarily important anyway. If a company is officially head-quartered in Ireland for tax purposes, but most of the operations are in the UK, and the biggest shareholders lives in Monaco (also for tax reasons), what does nationality mean?

    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I really hope your companies make a big fuss about this, though I don't have much hope.
      The response from 90% of indians will be "Good". There's no concept of privacy here. Probably comes from rubbing elbows with people each time you go out and being around prying family from birth. A lot of people didn't know what the big deal was when batman could see everything in Dark Knight.

  • So now CMS stands for "centralized monitoring system"... but Indians are doing an amateur job here, because anything centralized is doomed to become the single point of failure.

    Real (social-)Engineers knows better: don't put all your eggs in one basket. E.g. Decentralized, distributed, p2p web of surveillance in the clouds. [] (Grep for "Web Of Distrust" to see the relevant part.)

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I remember 5 years back, there was this group of kidnappers that had to be nailed in Northern India and police had no proper equipment to trace their communications. Finally, some geeks and a professor were hired by police and they were successfully nabbed. Such a system is essential in India considering terrorist threats from Islamic and China supported socialist maoist extremists.

    However, I am nervous as well, as I certainly wouldn't want corrupt govt. agencies snooping up on me :(

  • Should stop (Score:3, Insightful)

    by AHuxley ( 892839 ) on Friday November 27, 2009 @03:15AM (#30243288) Journal
    The humans rights workers who expose things like this: []
    Burning thousands of bodies in double funeral pyres.
    With the help of big telcos their work and contacts can be found.
    A chat about national security and all is fine again :)
    • Wow, what don't you learn ... India having 'disappearing' citizens, 1984 style.

      But I guess It was only to be expected, after all Oceania is not alone on world ... Eurasia and Eastasia need to catch up.

  • god knows how are they planning to implement this.. i seriously doubt if this can be implemented, lot of such ground breaking/interesting/first of its kind/mouth-watering/first-time-in- the-world "Projects" are announced but they seldom see the light of the day..
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by crispytwo ( 1144275 )

      Things to keep in mind:
      * When it costs a trillion dollars, they will squash it.
      * you will know your call is being monitored because the lights will dim
      * you will know when something you said/did requires deeper look because the lights will go out and your call or internet will become choppy or drop
      * you will know when you said something suspicious but they don't know why, and you will wake up in The Village.
      * you will know your neighbour is trouble because your lights will dim often.

  • Seems like India's version of the Patriot Act has given them some ideas on what to do with their newly-legalized abilities. At least they have the courtesy to be forward and open about it (unlike other countries {cough} USA {cough}). At the least, very few nations beyond China have instituted punishments for Thoughtcrime. Big Brother is watching you!

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Considering that all SIMs and landline phones must be registered to a particular person--down to the PAN (like SSN/SIN) or passport number of foreign nationals, which is then actually verified--this has some pretty frightening implications.

  • by Alex Belits ( 437 ) * on Friday November 27, 2009 @04:59AM (#30243754) Homepage

    World's largest democracy!
    World's largest democracy!
    World's largest democracy!

  • A country with so many languages and gods probably needs such a system, but implementing it would be a nightmare.
  • Why worry about this when we're already en-masse handing over all our private information to gmail? You don't think these communications are
    monitored? Of course they are, at least for advertisement-purposes.

    I say we need encryption at the client-to-client level. Something by which we can still use gmail, but in such a way that even google cannot inspect our communications.

    I guess that some simple extensions to javascript/html would do the trick (in principle it could be done in javascript, but you'll also w

  • They've also embarked on a population registration database and ID card scheme - for a population of nearly a billion. Given the scepticism critics have expressed here in the UK about the technical feasibility of the British Government's similar schemes (the National Identity Register and Interception Modernisation Project), I can't help feeling that the Indian officials have succumbed to an even larger dose of snake-oil than ours have.

  • Since this is happening not just in India, what measures can we take to protect ourselves? For example, with the Nokia 900 Linux-based phone or iPhone any apps exist, that will encrypt the conversations (similar to cryptophone, just actually affordable)? Anyone got any suggestions and/or experiences?

  • No popular Indian newspaper reported anything like that. I'm pretty sure that this news has been created by the manipulation wing of CIA and published by its media partners. Those filthy bastards don't like to be idle. Now that they've exhausted all the crap they can publish about China, they've turned towards India. Please don't believe them.
  • Problem solved.

  • Are they going to create a Google to index & search those communications?

"Let every man teach his son, teach his daughter, that labor is honorable." -- Robert G. Ingersoll