After terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 by Al-Qaeda, the US put greater stress on IT making it a key weapon against war on terrorism. In 2004, the department of Homeland Security (DHS) spent $3.75 billion (Rs 17,300 crore) and in 2005 more than $11 billion (Rs 50,800 crore) on IT. Sinace then there has been no terrorist attack in the US.
“Indian police is fighting terrorists with one hand tied,” said Rajiv Chandrasekhar, chairman of the FICCI task force on national security and terrorism. “Terrorists are equipped with modern communication equipment and come form the other side of the border, while the police of a state does not even have access to basic information about terrorists.
There are reports that some terrorists caught in UP before the 26/11 attacks had indicated plans to attack Mumbai. Had there been common pool of information, Mumbai Police would have been alerted.
There is a huge amount of personal information that is held by banks, telephone companies, credit card companies and other sources. All this information collected should come to a centralised repository where it can be collated and analysed.
Sophisticated and integrated public surveillance systems such as CCTV camera and number plate tracking systems should be installed in all the entry and exit points of a city and sensitive routes. In the London tube bomb blasts in 2005, CCTV cameras at station recorded all the suspects.
Police and other agencies should have access to CCTV footage on real time basis. “For this, all the information should be in digital format so that it can be transferred from one location to another easily,” said Chandrashekhar.
In the US, through digital Collection System Network, FBI is able to tap any communication device. It allows instant access to cellphones and landlines in the from a point-and-click interface. It is set up under the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA). “We can’t fight war against terrorism in the absence of a similar law and a similar system to tap information,” said B K Syngal, principal partner, Dua and Consulting, a Delhi based law firm.