Govt set to put new mechanism for interception of telephone

Last Updated: Thu, Mar 07, 2013 03:40 hrs

New Delhi: A new mechanism will be put in place by the government to eliminate the loopholes in authorised phone tapping by intelligence and enforcement agencies. The process, followed by the agencies by approaching telecom service providers individually after due authorisation, will be brought under one roof.

The interface with the telecom service provider will also be done away with. Official sources said the Central Monitoring System (CMS) is likely to be operational within a month and it will be brought under the Department of Telecom (DoT) and will be manned by the Intelligence Bureau (IB).

The critical changes in the phone-tapping procedure will include a clear electronic audit trail of the phones tapped. The audit trail of the CMS will be electronic unlike the cumbersome paper work done currently. The entire phone-tapping system will move to an electronic platform from the current manual system, sources said.

At present, the authorisation for tapping phones is physically taken to the service providers who then put the suspect's phone on the hook. Besides, there will be at least four hubs across the country besides the main faculty being based in Delhi. The first pilot run of the CMS is likely to start in April.
The discretionary power of agencies to listen into phone calls is likely to be curtailed, and changes are likely to be introduced in the relevant sections of the Telegraph Act through Parliamentary amendment.

According to current rules, agencies can, in pressing situations, put phones on the hook for seven days without obtaining permission. This freedom has been given to agencies to facilitate operation. Sources said that since the distance between the sanctioning authority and the agency is being removed, request for sanctions will also be sent electronically which will cut down the time to obtain permission.

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