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Starting from this month, all telecommunications and Internet communications in India will be analysed by the government and its agencies. This means that everything we say or text over the phone, write, post or browse over the Internet will be centrally monitored by Indian authorities. This totalitarian type of surveillance will be incorporated in none other than the Central Monitoring System (CMS).
The Central Monitoring System (CMS) may be another step in the wrong direction, especially with the lack of privacy laws to protect Indian citizens against potential abuse. Yet, all telecommunications and internet communications are to be monitored by Indian authorities through the CMS, despite the fact that it remains unclear how our data will be used.
It will be connected with the Telephone Call Interception System (TCIS) which will help monitor voice calls, SMS and MMS, fax communications on landlines, CDMA, video calls, GSM and 3G networks. Agencies which will have access to the CMS include the Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW), the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), the National Investigation Agency (NIA), the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT), the Narcotics Control Bureau, and the Enforcement Directorate (ED). Last October, the NIA approached the Department of Telecom requesting for connection with the CMS to help it intercept phone calls and monitor social networking sites without the cooperation of telcos. NIA is currently monitoring eight out of 10,000 telephone lines and if connected with the CMS, NIA will also get access to e-mails and other social media platforms. Essentially, CMS will be converging all the interception lines at one location for Indian law enforcement agencies to access them. CMS will be capable of intercepting our calls and analyzing our data on social networking sites, and also tracking encrypted signals. Thus our attempts to protect our data from ubiquitous surveillance would be futile.