Phone tap guidelines by Monday | india | Hindustan Times
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Phone tap guidelines by Monday

The government has decided to issue fresh guidelines for phone tapping to put in place a safety mechanism to check misuse.

india Updated: Feb 04, 2006 01:31 IST

The government has decided to issue fresh guidelines for phone tapping to put in place a safety mechanism to check misuse. According to sources, the new guidelines could be issued as early as Monday.

The decision was taken at a high-level meeting chaired by home secretary V.K. Duggal and attended by officials of the home ministry, department of telecommunication and leading telecom service providers. The new guidelines will be submitted in Supreme Court, and the government will assure the court the thrust of the guidelines will be to make tapping norms more foolproof. Senior ministry and DoT officials will meet again on Saturday to finalise the rules.

An important provision to be introduced is concerned with the need to check forgery of requisition letters. Service providers will have to maintain a record of signatures of nodal officers in the police and intelligence agencies who forward the phone tap request. Apart from signatures, service providers can also keep any other proof of identity. "This mechanism will be similar to the one existing in banks, where one person can't operate the account of another on a forged signature," an official said.

The new guidelines will specify a particular format in which the request letter has to be written. This will remain "confidential" to avoid forgery. It will also be mandatory for the letter to be delivered in a "sealed cover" and by a designated officer, at least of the rank of inspector. The officer will take the request first to the home secretary and following his approval, to the service provider. Presently, even constables deliver such requests in various formats and in open envelopes.

Both the police and service provider will appoint two nodal officers authorised to send and receive requests. They’ll have to hold weekly meetings to review the number of phones being taped. The government also informed operators about a proposed move to amend the Indian Telegraph Act while directing them to mount strict surveillance on "middle and lower-level officials".