Thursday, May 2, 2013

Indian Central Monitoring System

The central monitoring system (CMS) project of India is one of the most controversial projects about to be launched by Indian government. It the CMS project of India is attached with other controversial projects like Aadhaar; this would be a serious civil liberty fiasco. The Aadhaar project is already questioned in the Indian courts and the CMS project would also face similar fate.

We have been maintaining that the ministry of communication and information technology (MCIT) must be put PMO scrutiny. In fact, the MCIT must be put under the direct control of PMO to make it more transparent and accountable. Although the PMO took some interest in the technology related issues in the past yet they were never sufficient.

Now it has been reported that the PMO questioned the preferential market access (PMA) policy of MCIT. The PMO must also question the CMS project as it has serious civil liberties issues. Human rights protection in cyberspace must also be kept in mind by the PMO.

The CMS project and telephone tapping issues are also interrelated. Although the standing committee on home affairs recommended safeguards for phone tapping of politicians yet no such safeguards have been prescribed for ordinary citizens. We still do not have a lawful interception law in India to govern phone tapping and e-surveillance issues. The fact is that India must reconcile civil liberties and national security requirements immediately.

The CMS project has also created waves at the international level as well. For instance, see the Reddit, Pastebin, Pastebay, bedtime e-post, etc in this regard.

According to Praveen Dalal, managing partner of New Delhi based ICT law firm Perry4Law and leading techno legal expert of Asia, The CMS Project of India is a good and ambitious project that is required to manage National Security and Law Enforcement requirements of the country. However, adequate “Procedural Safeguards” must also be established in the System so that it is not abused for political and personal reasons, warns Dalal.

It is clear that the time for CMS project of India has still not come. Of course, if Indian government is still willing to waste tremendous public money on illegal and unconstitutional projects like Aadhaar, it is free to go ahead with CMS project as well. But keeping in mind the forthcoming elections and the attitude of PMO this seems to be a distant possibility.