Zee Media Bureau
New Delhi: A report claimed on Thursday that India has put in place an elaborate surveillance system that would allow the government and its various agencies and departments, including income tax officials, to tap e-mails and phone calls of unsuspecting individuals.
The report said such surveillance would not have any oversight by courts or Parliament.
The government claims the programme is necessary for national security, but it has left a feeling of unease among privacy advocates.
The revelations have come at a time when disclosures have been made about massive US digital snooping beyond American shores.
"If India doesn`t want to look like an authoritarian regime, it needs to be transparent about who will be authorized to collect data, what data will be collected, how it will be used, and how the right to privacy will be protected," Cynthia Wong, an Internet researcher at New York-based Human Rights Watch, told a leading international news agency.
The Central Monitoring System (CMS) was first made public in 2011 but little details of it are known to the people. The government is silent on how it will ensure the system is not abused.
The agency said the new system will allow the government to listen to and tape phone conversations, read e-mails and text messages, monitor posts on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn and track searches on Google of selected targets.
In 2012, India sent in 4,750 requests to Google Inc for user data, the highest in the world after the United States.
(With agency inputs)