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Feb 18, 2011 at 06:03pm IST

Govt all set to tap our phones directly

New Delhi: Nira Radia phone calls, recorded for a Government probe, were leaked to the media, which led to uproar and loads of embarrassment.

Even Amar Singh's phone calls were tapped based on a document with a lot of errors.

Questions were also raised about safety of manual phone monitoring by service providers.

If a new proposal from the Cabinet Committee on Security is implemented, things will change, and your phone call will be directly on tap.

All phone interceptions across the country could now be done by the centre. And a secret note of the cabinet committee on security further said, "As the proposal is related to national security, public accountability is not relevant".

So, according to the proposal, the Centre will be able to intercept all communication across the country and will have access to all private networks.

A centralised monitoring system connected to state hubs will bypass telecom operators.

But state governments will be required to give their consent to this centralised tapping.

On the other hand, the Centre's justification in this will help unearth illegal intercepts by private telecom operators and make the systems more secure.

The 540 crore project will have a three member oversight committee comprising the Cabinet Secretary, Home Secretary and Intelligence Bureau Chief.

Opposition ruled states are likely to see red over the proposal, but for now the Centre is on the defensive.

"Security and welfare of the nation should be of prime importance," said Congress spokesperson Shakeel Ahmed.

Earlier this month union home secretary GK Pillai had admitted that over one lakh phones are tapped illegally while legal phone taps were only 6000 last year.

Phone taps are an easy way of keeping tabs on the adversary, be it within the ruling coalition or the Opposition. Which is why the question is will states come on board and agree to being intercepted by the Centre.

And the bigger question will this stop illegal phone taps either by the telecom operator or by the Centre?

Going by the utility value of phone taps and easy access to tapping technology, it may not be that easy to stop illegal taps.

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