iconimg Monday, March 30, 2015

Saikat Datta, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, January 20, 2014
A fortnight after technical spy agency National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO) received the green signal to protect to several critical sectors, the Centre is set to roll out a bigger plan to keep an eye on internet traffic. The National Cyber Coordination Centre (NCCC), which received an in-principle approval from the cabinet committee of security in May last year – is about to become a reality.

A 125-page report on the R500-crore project has been sent to the ministry of finance for clearance. Once cleared, it would go to the Cabinet Committee for Economic Affairs for a final nod.

“The new body comes under the National Information Board and would be responsible for all forms of cyber intelligence and cyber security issues,” said a senior intelligence official on condition of anonymity.

The NCCC is expected to screen all forms of meta-data, ensure better coordination between various intelligence agencies and “streamline” intelligence gathering. To that end, it expands the charter of the Computer Emergency Response Team, India, (CERT-IN), which has the bulk of the government, public-private and private sectors under its jurisdiction.

It is also the duty of the NCCC alert all relevant agencies during a cyber-attack and ensure better cyber intelligence sharing.

But though the NCCC would be concentrating on meta data and not personal data, the fact that it would actively coordinate cyber intelligence and improve information sharing, makes citizens more vulnerable to the government. What worsens the situation is the lack of a privacy law, and transparency in the measures being taken, said officials from the ministry of communications & IT.

“Agencies like the NTRO and organisations like the National Security Council Secretariat are beyond the scope of any transparency law. This would create problems from a privacy perspective, but it would be a better mechanism to monitor threats,” the official said.

For now, the government is undecided on whom to appoint national cyber coordinator --- the head of the NCCC. So far, CERT-IN has been the lead agency in signing agreements for better coordination with the international community.