New Delhi: Unauthorised tapping of telephones will soon be a matter of past as the government has decided to operationalise a "foolproof" Central Monitoring System (CMS) which will put an end to all illegal interception. The CMS, which enables security agencies to monitor phones and internet communications of suspected persons, will ensure that monitoring of phone calls, text messages and internet use of citizens will be done only by government agencies after taking due permission from designated authority.
"We will soon operationalise the CMS. It will be a fool-proof monitoring system," Union Home Secretary RK Singh told reporters. The CMS will put an end to the involvement of telephone operators in phone tapping and if any agency wishes to monitor any particular number will have to keep all record online -- taking permission, duration of monitoring, what did they found and the persons involved in the whole process -- so that the person concerned could be brought to task if there is any irregularity.
The Home Secretary will soon chair a review meeting on the CMS and its operationalisation along with all stakeholders - the Ministry of Telecom and Department of Information Technology. The government has been maintaining that it is setting up CMS to safeguard citizen's privacy from mobile operators and protects national security.
Phone-tapping powers are restricted only to nine agencies in the country, including CBI and the Income Tax department. The government is, however, planning to give market regulator SEBI the powers to get telephone call data records (CDRs) of entities under its investigation in cases of insider trading, money laundering and other market manipulations.
SEBI will be given powers to get CDRs, access to emails and SMSes through the amendments in the Indian Telegraph Rules, 1951, which is being worked out jointly by the Ministries of Home and Telecom. The move to give SEBI the powers getting CDRs came following a request of the market regulator as well as the Ministry of Finance.
SEBI needs CDRs of entities under its investigation to establish links between two or more parties who might have had conversations among themselves before or after the incidents of insider trading, prevent black money coming to market or other manipulative activities in the market.