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“Big Brother” Indian Government Taps an Astounding 100 Phones a Day from a Single Telco

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The recent Supreme Court case dealing with the phone tapping of a political leader who has fallen on bad days has revealed an astounding fact.The Indian Government taps more than 100 phones a day just from a single telecom operator.When the Supreme Court castigated Reliance Telecom  for tapping the phone based on a phony letter full of bad grammar,the operator revealed that it had received requests to tap 150,000 phones over a period of 5 years.This reveals a massive systematic abuse by the government of its powers.This sort of behaviour seems more like that of a police state like Egypt rather than a flourishing democracy.Talking on the mobile phone has suddenly become a dangerous activity as Big Brother Indian government is listening to most of the country’s communications.The recent Nira Radia phone tap leak shows the complete respect for privacy.It is not only the government,the service providers in the country have scant respect for your privacy.Telecom operators,Banks,Travel Agencies will sell your information for a pittance to marketing agencies.Telecom operators will not only sell your information but also the list of all your contacts.

Recently I had booked some tickets with Yatra which is one of the popular travel agencies.To my surprise, a few days later I am being spammed by an insurance company Tata AIG.The phone operator of Tata AIG in his pitch reveals that he has got the number from Yatra.There are many other instances of such blatant oppurtunism.With the government acting in such a manner,private organizations also get encouraged to throw privacy to the dogs.

Govt tapped 1.51 lakh phones in 2006-10, says RCom

Reliance Infocomm, India’s second-largest mobile telephony provider, told the Supreme Court on Monday that various government agencies asked it to intercept 1.51 lakh numbers during the four years between 2006 and 2010.

This means requests for more than 100 numbers to be tapped poured in every day. And that is with just one operator. The astounding level of interception points to either overzealous use of this legal instrument by investigative agencies, or widespread abuse of the system, or both.

While strict guidelines exist for Central and state governments to tap phones only in cases where no other instrument of evidence gathering is available, the barrage of phone taps suggest these guidelines are not strictly followed.

The company also told the SC that it had tapped conversations of former Samajwadi Party leader Amar Singh in pursuance of the directions given to the company by the Delhi Police and the Union Government. RCom in its affidavit said it had intercepted Amar Singh’s teleconversations on the direction of the Joint Commissioner of Delhi Police and Home Secretary of NCT government on the authorisation letters which has been alleged to be forged.

“When a request for interception is received, the service provider is duty bound to comply with the request immediately and there was no provision under which it could send back the request,” said RCom. Earlier, the court had slammed the company for tapping the phones of petitioner Singh on the basis of an authorisation letter full of errors.

RCom, however said, there was no reason to believe that the letter sent was forged as similar errors were there in earlier letters which were genuine. It told the court that the company acted in a bona fide manner. A service provider is bound to act on the government’s instructions and there are chances of serious threat of terrorist attack if not complied with it on grounds of spelling errors, said RCom.


Abhishek Shah

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