Phone tapping surveillance
But it is so easily done with such little effort that it becomes the first recourse for law enforcement authorities. With an increasing reliance on phone tapping as operational tools, the surveillance society is only set for consolidation. Activists argue for a US-like system where only a judge authorises wiretaps after reviewing the evidence.
There is every danger of wrong permissions being given out, resulting in indiscriminate tapping," says former chief justice Rajinder Sachar. Phone tapping is allowed under the general provisions of Section 5 of the Indian Telegraph Act, but only in "public emergency, or in the interest of public safety". In , the Supreme Court, in response to a petition filed by justice Sachar, laid down five precepts for intercepting conversations-in the interests of national sovereignty and integrity, state security, friendly relations with foreign states, public order or for preventing incitement to the commission of an offence.
Enough guidelines in place on phone tapping, no need for more: HC
It should be kept in safe custody of the court or very few officers should have access to it. Leaking tapes are like leaking official secrets; it not only adversely affects an individual but is also harmful to investigations and the prosecution process," says Arun Bhagat, former director, IB.
Often a hint of suspicion can put you under the scanner.
The bureaucrat shunned his official accommodation in favour of a plush guesthouse provided by his friend and co-accused Vinit Kumar. Singh's phones were kept under observation where he was heard referring to "Ukranian and Russian software", a code for prostitutes. Hotels were referred to as hardware and bribes were called laddoos. He was charged with giving clearance to a US-based telecom company, Telecordia, for mobile number portability. Dozens of other bureaucrats are believed to be under surveillance for similar reasons.
But for every legal case, there are hundreds of illegal wire taps. Five years ago, a Mumbai newspaper publicised explicit phone conversations of actor Salman Khan. The Government claimed the voice on the tapes was not Khan's.
It was a cover-up of an illegal wiretap. The conversations had been leaked out from the city crime branch. Four private detectives were arrested for illegally obtaining phone records of former Samajwadi Party leader Amar Singh in But what if an illegally monitored phone yields evidence of wrongdoing? Officials say a backdated application is sought from the home secretary. Every agency fills out an authorisation slip before placing a phone under surveillance.
In the states, it is the state home secretary who signs this. Officially, telephones of politicians cannot be tapped-a qualifier on the slip says the surveilled person is not an elected representative. Before the advent of cellular phones, state agencies often strung out parallel lines from telephone poles, rented lodgings in the vicinity or even pitched a tent in the vicinity posing as nomadic tribes.
Often the target would get to know due to the disturbance in the phone. Calls could only be listened to, not recorded. Cellphones gave organised crime syndicates mobility and anonymity as connections could be bought in fake names. In the mids, operators were ill-equipped to intercept calls. In the first instance of surveillance, the then deputy superintendent of the Uttar Pradesh Special Task Force stf Rajesh Pandey got a telecom engineer in Allahabad to devise a typewriter-sized interception box.
The box was lugged around and connected to switching stations. Today, every cellular service provider has an aggregation station which is a clutch of servers called mediation servers because they mediate between the cellular operators and the law enforcement agencies to intercept phones. Simultaneously, a sound file of the intercepted call is also recorded and stored in the mediation server.
Spy Phone App for:
In ISDN, the transfer of call-related data doesn't happen in real time. A slow 64 kbps speed results in a time lag of two to three minutes. Under the leased line facility, the service provider gives the agency direct access to its backbone network through a dedicated fast speed fibre optic cable connection. The call-related data is not only transmitted in real time, at the lightning speed of 2 mbps, the chances of missing any call are minimal.
But since the cost of laying a fast-speed fibre optic cable connection is higher, state agencies are more dependent on ISDN. At any given point of time a service provider can provide a maximum of eight agencies the call interception facility to a given number.
The commonest surveillance methods are sourcing an individual's call data records CDR or list of numbers dialled and received. This does not require government sanction.
This can easily be used to pry on civilians. A secretary in a Central ministry is believed to source the CDRs of journalists to trace their sources. Technology is an antidote to privacy. The rich and the famous do try and escape it. Karunanidhi's wife Rajathi's charted accountant to call on her Tata Docomo number. Since lawful intercept of a cellphone can only be done by writing to the concerned telecom service provider, Radia evidently felt secure on a number provided by her client, Tata.
Anil Ambani's aide Tony Jesudasan uses only Reliance cellphone numbers. Sources say both the it Department and CBI wanted to tap Jesudasan's number but decided against it for obvious reasons. Singh had a friend in Vodafone's senior management who warned him of all his four numbers being monitored by the Delhi Police, thus giving him time to destroy incriminating evidence. There is a twist in this tale. A majority of surveillance equipment was acquired to keep track of organised crime and terrorism.
Intelligence agencies rue that phone tapping and interceptions are now yielding diminishing returns because terrorists have found new ways of staying ahead of them. Terrorists are increasingly using BlackBerry phones while their handlers are using the new generation Inmarsat-4 satellite phones, making their interception next to impossible, at least for now. Though Inmarsat-4 phones can be monitored off the air, the conversation is available only in encrypted format.
Voice and data can be effectively monitored only at the Inmarsat-4 switch in London and New York, where it is available in decrypted form. That is the reason why India still has to depend upon British or US intelligence agencies for information. Voice over Internet Telephony voip -based Skype and Google mail and chat are also extensively used by terrorists, small-time criminals and corporate houses.
Free software can be downloaded on smart handsets and computers to encrypt calls and mails. Commercially available software like Cellcrypt has been found to be most effective in securing conversations and messages. Compatible with all smartphones, Cellcrypt aids in personalised encryption of all communication. The only catch for completely secure communication is that handsets at both ends should have the software.
If only one of the handsets has installed the software, the communication will be available in decrypted format at the other end. Let's work together to keep the conversation civil.
Telephone Tapping Device | PKI Electronic Intelligence GmbH Germany
Open in app. Notification Center. Now, you can ask Trai for info. And thus it is an obligation on the public authority to get the information from the private body and furnish the same to the applicant.
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