More phones, emails under surveillance

Beware! Indian intelligence agencies are increasingly relying on eavesdropping phone conversations and email snooping to pick up information that they insist is necessary to keep you safe.

Nearly 10,500 telephone numbers and 1,600 email IDs were under surveillance during September this year. The monitoring of emails by various security agencies saw a 36% rise in September.

The phone taps in September were marginally less than those in August but much higher than the corresponding statistics last year. For instance 8,736 phone numbers and email accounts were intercepted by intelligence agencies in July last year.

And this does not include the phone calls and emails intercepted by state police forces at the drop of the hat within their jurisdiction where the state home secretary is authorised to sanction wiretaps.

Or the call data records —which reveals your location at any point of time or the people you called — that police and security agencies can get from mobile companies without seeking any permission.

Central security agencies such as the Intelligence Bureau and the Narcotics Control Bureau — which keeps tabs on about 5,500-6,000 phones at any point of time — need the union home secretary’s sanction to tap phones. This approval is supposed to be reviewed by a panel headed by the cabinet secretary, a process introduced in 2007 as a safeguard against misuse.

A retired government official familiar with the process conceded it was impossible to study each case of approval in detail and rejection at any level was “not very common”. The panel red-flagged six requests made by intelligence agencies.

 (With PTI Inputs)

 

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