Saturday, February 19, 2011

Centralised Monitoring System Of India Needs Parliamentary Oversight

All the Blogspot users of India must have noticed that their Blogs, both hosted and free one, were inaccessible for many hours. While Google’s Help Forum was flooded with queries and complaints, Google preferred to keep a mum and till date it has not come out with an answer in this regard.

Google has neither confirmed nor denied that Blogspot was blocked in India or it faced any technical glitch. However, a very educated and technical guess attributes this non availability of Blogspot to “experimental blocking” by the government of India.

So how this experimental blocking took place? This experimental blocking may have taken place with the help of the central monitoring system (CMS) of the government of India. CMS is one of the initiatives suggested by Kapil Sibal, Minister of Communication and Information Technology (MCIT). However, Kapil Sibal failed to provide any procedural and constitutional safeguards to prevent the abuse of this system.

In the meantime, the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) has suggested that phone tapping should be done directly from the Centre without the involvement of the telecom operators. Realising that constitutional impediments would be there, the CCS has already played the card of national security and claimed that since the proposal is related to national security, public accountability is not relevant.

This approach of CCS and MCIT is clearly unconstitutional and CCS must play a more positive and pro active role regarding protecting civil liberties of Indians. India presently does not have a constitutionally sound phone tapping and lawful interception law. Even privacy laws are missing in India.

In these circumstance, there is an urgent need of Parliamentary Oversight of projects like Aadhar/UID, national intelligence grid (Natgrid), criminal tracking network and systems (CCTNS), CMS, etc.

This is more so when the Executive branch of Indian constitution has literally hijacked the constitution and there is no provision for “judicial review” of phone tapping and other unlawful interceptions made by the Indian government and its agencies.

These projects and activities of Indian government and its agencies only prove that India is witnessing a complete “constitutional failure” and if Indian government still does not wakes up, it would be too late to do anything in this regard.