Centre for Internet & Society

The Centre Internet and Society, India has been researching privacy policy in India since the year 2010 with the following objectives.

  1. Research on the issue of privacy in different sectors in India.
  2. Monitoring projects, practices, and policies around those sectors.
  3. Raising public awareness around the issue of privacy, in light of varied projects, industries, sectors and instances.

State surveillance in India has been carried out by Government agencies for many years. Recent projects include: NATGRID, CMS, NETRA, etc. which aim to overhaul the overall security and intelligence infrastructure in the country. The purpose of such initiatives has been to maintain national security and ensure interconnectivity and interoperability between departments and agencies. Concerns regarding the structure, regulatory frameworks (or lack thereof), and technologies used in these programmes and projects have attracted criticism.

Surveillance/Security Research -

1. Central Monitoring System -

The Central Monitoring System or CMS is a clandestine mass electronic surveillance data mining program installed by the Center for Development of Telematics (C-DOT), a part of the Indian government. It gives law enforcement agencies centralized access to India's telecommunications network and the ability to listen in on and record mobile, landline, satellite, Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) calls along with private e-mails, SMS, MMS. It also gives them the ability to geo-locate individuals via cell phones in real time.

  • The Central Monitoring System: Some Questions to be Raised in Parliament http://bit.ly/1fln2vu

2. Surveillance Industry : Global And Domestic -

The surveillance industry is a multi-billion dollar economic sector that tracks individuals along with their actions such as e-mails and texts. With the cause for its existence being terrorism and the government's attempts to fight it, a network has been created that leaves no one with their privacy. All that an individual does in the digital world is suspect to surveillance. This included surveillance in the form of snooping where an individual's phone calls, text messages and e-mails are monitored or a more active kind where cameras, sensors and other devices are used to actively track the movements and actions of an individual. This information allows governments to bypass the privacy that an individual has in a manner that is considered unethical and incorrect. This information that is collected also in vulnerable to cyber-attacks that are serious risks to privacy and the individuals themselves. The following set of articles look into the ethics, risks, vulnerabilities and trade-offs of having a mass surveillance industry in place.

  • Surveillance Technologies http://bit.ly/14pxg74
  • New Standard Operating Procedures for Lawful Interception and Monitoring http://bit.ly/1mRRIo4

3. Judgements By the Indian Courts -

The surveillance industry in India has been brought before the court in different cases. The following articles look into the cause of action in these cases along with their impact on India and its citizens.

4. International Privacy Laws -

Due to the universality of the internet, many questions of accountability arise and jurisdiction becomes a problem. Therefore certain treaties, agreements and other international legal literature was created to answer these questions. The articles listed below look into the international legal framework which governs the internet.

5. Indian Surveillance Framework -

The Indian government's mass surveillance systems are configured a little differently from the networks of many countries such as the USA and the UK. This is because of the vast difference in infrastructure both in existence and the required amount. In many ways, it is considered that the surveillance network in India is far worse than other countries. This is due to the present form of the legal system in existence. The articles below explore the system and its functioning including the various methods through which we are spied on. The ethics and vulnerabilities are also explored in these articles.

  • A Comparison of Indian Legislation to Draft International Principles on Surveillance of Communications http://bit.ly/U6T3xy
  • Surveillance and the Indian Constitution - Part 2: Gobind and the Compelling State Interest Test http://bit.ly/1dH3meL
  • Surveillance and the Indian Constitution - Part 3: The Public/Private Distinction and the Supreme Court's Wrong Turn http://bit.ly/1kBosnw
  • Mastering the Art of Keeping Indians Under Surveillance http://cis-india.org/internet-governance/blog/the-wire-may-30-2015-bhairav-acharya-mastering-the-art-of-keeping-indians-under-surveillance
The views and opinions expressed on this page are those of their individual authors. Unless the opposite is explicitly stated, or unless the opposite may be reasonably inferred, CIS does not subscribe to these views and opinions which belong to their individual authors. CIS does not accept any responsibility, legal or otherwise, for the views and opinions of these individual authors. For an official statement from CIS on a particular issue, please contact us directly.