Monday, May 30, 2011

Call Data Records Storage Policy Of India

India is not very good at law making. This is more so regarding technology related laws. For instance, consider the cyber law of India incorporated in the information technology act 2000 (IT Act 2000). IT Act 2000 is a classical example of bad drafting that has created more problems than solutions. This is the reason why experts have been suggesting that it should be repealed.

Similarly, we have no lawful interception law in India. Even phone tapping in India is not done in a constitutional manner and illegal phone tapping in India is under scrutiny. There is no e-surveillance policy in India. India does not bother to maintain a balance between national security and fundamental rights of Indians.

India has launched projects like Aadhar, National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID), Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and Systems (CCTNS), National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC), Central Monitoring System (CMS), Centre for Communication Security Research and Monitoring (CCSRM), etc. None of them are governed by any Legal Framework and none of them are under Parliamentary Scrutiny.

In this background, the news that Intelligence Bureau (IB) wants all mobile phone companies to store call data records, or details of all phone calls made by their customers, for a period of five years is really surprising. Indian law enforcement agencies and intelligence agencies are practically governed by no law. In fact, intelligence infrastructure of India is in big mess and India is not at all ready for projects like CCTNS, Natgrid, NCTC, etc.

It is no surprise that the central bureau of India (CBI) is also not governed by any law and it is operating in India without any law. It is only now that the central bureau of investigation act 2010 was drafted. Till now it is a mere draft and has not become an enforceable law. Even the constitutional validity of the national investigation agency act 2008 is doubtful. The recent circulation of the draft Intelligence Services (Powers and Regulations) Bill, 2011 (Draft Intelligence Bill 2011) in the Lok Sabha shows how our Parliament of India took the matter very casually.

We must start formulating the call data storage policy of India as soon as possible. The one suggested by IB is neither feasible nor desirable. Issues like increased costs to operators, privacy safeguards, legal framework requirements, etc cannot be ignored the way they have been ignored so far. Presently, an inter-ministerial group is looking into monitoring of both internet services and networks in the country. This matter may also be refereed to the same. However, in all probability, this demand would be refused.

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