Agencies will soon be able to directly intercept calls, Govt tells Lok Sabha

RSTV Bureau
File Photo ( PTI )

File Photo ( PTI )

A new centralised system to monitor and intercept phones will become operational by March that will enable direct interception by security agencies without involvement of the service providers. The project is being set up with a government funding of Rs 400 crore.

“Government has decided to set up the Centralized Monitoring System (CMS) to automate the process of lawful interception and monitoring of telecommunications,” Union Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said in written reply to a Lok Sabha question on Wednesday.

According to the government, by using CMS, security agencies will be able to lawfully intercept phone numbers without any manual intervention from service providers. Currently, security agencies are required to approach the telecom operators for intercepting communications of their targets like suspected terrorists and criminals.

“Technology development and pilot trials have been completed and the system is anticipated to be progressively operationalised from the end of the financial year,” the minister added in his reply.

“Cabinet Committee on Security has approved the project of CMS with government funding of Rs 400 crore,” Mr. Prasad said.

On the question of the privacy of citizens, the Union minister said there is an oversight mechanism in the form of review committee under chairmanship of the Cabinet Secretary at the central government level and Chief Secretary at the state government level.

“The same mechanism is applicable for the interception under the CMS project also. Additionally, there is an in-built mechanism of checks and balances as security agencies or law enforcement agencies cannot provision the target and the provisioning agency cannot see the content,” Prasad said.

The authorised security agencies can monitor and intercept calls as part of their probes with due permissions, although concerns have been raised from time to time about such actions infringing upon the privacy of the people.

(With inputs from the PTI)