Feeds

Indian spooks snooping without ISP knowledge

'Lawful Intercept and Monitoring' systems don't sound very lawful

Remote control for virtualized desktops

India's authorities are carrying out wide-ranging and indiscriminate internet surveillance of their citizens thanks to secret intercept systems located at the international gateways of several large ISPs, according to The Hindu.

The Chennai-based paper claimed after an investigation that Lawful Intercept and Monitoring (LIM) systems had been deployed by the Centre for Development of Telematics (C-DoT), in violation of the government’s own communications and privacy rules.

The LIMs are fully owned and operated by the government, unlike similar systems deployed by mobile operators which have to comply with Section 5(2) of the Indian Telegraph Act and Rule 419(A) of the IT Rules, it said.

In 2006 the government apparently released “Instructions for ensuring privacy of communications”, which forced all ISPs to employ “nodal officers” to regularly liaise with the authorities on interception requests. However, in reality few ISPs have such staff and the LIMs are operated without any consultation with them in any case, The Hindu claimed.

As a result no ISP contacted by the paper was able to confirm if it had ever received an authorisation letter for the monitoring of internet content.

The LIMs in question are apparently installed between the edge router and core network and have 100 per cent indiscriminate access to the online activity of India’s 160 million internet users with an “always live” link, so spooks can operate without legal oversight or ISP knowledge.

The authorities are therefore able to monitor not just by email address, URL or IP address but by broad keyword or text searches, paper said.

Nine security agencies are apparently involved including the Intelligence Bureau (IB) and the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW).

The government was not able to provide any clarity around who, if anyone, sends the interception requests, or who authenticates and implements it.

The news comes as New Delhi finalises a much more widely publicised surveillance system – the Rs.4 billion (£47.8m) Centralised Monitoring System (CMS).

The CMS, which has been branded as “chilling” by Human Rights Watch and is the subject of a popular Stop ICMS campaign, has hit several delays due to missing software and gaps in its coverage, but is expected to be pushed through.

The Indian government has shown itself to be pretty uncompromising when it comes to matters of “national security”, as BlackBerry can attest to after its long battle over providing spooks with access to customer comms. ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
Google Glassholes are UNDATEABLE – HP exec
You need an emotional connection, says touchy-feely MD... We can do that
Just don't blame Bono! Apple iTunes music sales PLUMMET
Cupertino revenue hit by cheapo downloads, says report
US court SHUTS DOWN 'scammers posing as Microsoft, Facebook support staff'
Netizens allegedly duped into paying for bogus tech advice
Feds seek potential 'second Snowden' gov doc leaker – report
Hang on, Ed wasn't here when we compiled THIS document
Verizon bankrolls tech news site, bans tech's biggest stories
No agenda here. Just don't ever mention Net neutrality or spying, ok?
NATO declares WAR on Google Glass, mounts attack alongside MPAA
Yes, the National Association of Theater Owners is quite upset
Inside the EYE of the TORnado: From Navy spooks to Silk Road
It's hard enough to peel the onion, are you hard enough to eat the core?
prev story

Whitepapers

Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile
Data demand and the rise of virtualization is challenging IT teams to deliver storage performance, scalability and capacity that can keep up, while maximizing efficiency.
Mitigating web security risk with SSL certificates
Web-based systems are essential tools for running business processes and delivering services to customers.