New Delhi: Private firms including detective
agencies using passive interception equipment may have to
surrender them to the government, if the amendments planned by
the Centre to the Indian Telegraph Act 1885 come into force.
Government sources said an amendment in the Telegraph Act
is being worked on and could be introduced in the next
As per the proposed amendments, import of such equipment
which helps in off-air recording of mobile conversations could
be severely regulated and could also be licensed.
They said under the new rules, private firms already
using such equipment will have to surrender the same within a
period or will face heavy fines in case they fail to do so.
The steps, sources said, is being taken to prevent the
sale of such equipment which is now easily available in the
Currently, all one has to do is to buy such equipment,
which are not very costly, and place it near any phone which
one needs to snoop into.
For example, any person near any building sitting in car
with such equipment can listen into conversations of a person
inside the building without the victim knowing anything about
Similar equipment was believed to have been used to
listen in conversations of several political leaders by a
government agency recently and when matters came to light,
created an uproar in Parliament.
The proposed amendment will also make it necessary for
security agencies to have clearance for doing passive
recording of phone conversations.
Currently, the Telegraph Act does not have any section to
control passive interception.
"Only matters related to intelligence needs like terror
related conversations will be kept as records. All other
conversations will be deleted," sources said.