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Govt forms IMG to curtail leakage in phone tapping

Against the backdrop of Radia tapes leak controversy, a 15-member Inter Ministerial Group has been constituted for recommending effective monitoring of provisions of telephone tapping and curtailing its leakage.



New Delhi: Against the backdrop of Radia
tapes leak controversy, a 15-member Inter Ministerial Group
(IMG) has been constituted for recommending effective
monitoring of provisions of telephone tapping and curtailing
its leakage to the public at large.

The Union Home Secretary will chair the IMG which will
have secretaries of Defence, DoT, IT, Revenue, Personnel and
Legal Affairs as among the members, according to a Cabinet
Secretary note.
The Group will make recommendations on reviewing the
comparable provisions of the Indian Telegraph Act and suggest
amendments, the note said.

The IMG will go into Section 5(2) of Indian Telegraph
Act which envisages power for Government to take possession of
licensed telegraphs and to order interception of messages.

The IMG which also comprises chiefs of Intelligence
Bureau, CBI, Narcotics Control Bureau, NIA, DRI and ED, Member
CBDT and Additional DG of Signal Intelligence (Defence
Ministry) will draw up uniform processes and procedures
including Standard Operating Procedures for usage of tapped
phones and destruction of non-relevant information.
In the wake of recently leaked tapes pertaining to
the telephone conversations between corporate lobbyist Niira
Radia and others, the SOP will also look into destruction of
intercepts and mode for destruction under which the authorised
agencies should review information available on intercepts at
periodic intervals and "must" destroy parts of transcript that
are not relevant to their work.

"The entire conversation or message is not to be
retained by the intercepting agency," Cabinet Secretariat note
said.

"System of call logs, which is computer generated
currently prevents destruction of records, should be reviewed
to ensure strict compliance with rules on destruction of
information," will be one of the SOP that will be deliberated
upon by the IMG.

The IMG will also draw up regulation and prevention of
misuse of off-the-air interception using GSM and CDMA phones.

The IMG will also draw up an SOP for checking the
possibility of insider threats and leaking it and therefore it
should maintain a chain of custody for intercepted material
which is scrupulously followed by all agencies and service
providers.

Mutual exchange of telephone intercepts between two
probe agencies may also be redefined whereby only excerpts
would be handed over investigating agency.

"During interception, any information that is relevant
to another authorised agency, it may be mandated to exchange
only that portion of the interception and not the entire
transcript," the note said.

The decision to form this IMG was taken after a high
level meeting chaired by Prime Minister in February.

PTI

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