Law enforcement agencies in India have been provided with a facility to monitor internet traffic in real-time without even visiting an internet provider’s premises. According to a new report by Entrackr, the revelation was made by the Internet Service Providers Association of India in a filing with the Department of Telecommunications.
“All ILD [international long distance] and ISP [internet service provider] licensees are mandated to connect their systems to the CMS [Centralized Monitoring System] facility…law enforcement agencies are provided a facility for online and real-time monitoring of traffic,” the filing said as reported by Entrackr.
This indicates that the government and law enforcement agencies may have “wider and easier” access to Indians’ internet traffic than previously believed.
The CMS was started after the 26/11 Mumbai attacks to expand the surveillance capacity of the Indian government. Its implementation has been delayed, but the report stated that according to experts, the infrastructure available is enough for the government to monitor the traffic.
According to a note by an expert, as reported by Entrackr, the government can use CMS to gain access to traffic even after the telecom operator’s knowledge. No individual requests need to be sent by the government while using CMS.
Citing earlier similar incidents, Entrackr wrote, “Rajan Mathews, then the Director General of the Cellular Operators Association of India, revealed in an interview in 2020 that telecom operators had started to remotely provide access to phone calls that were subject to lawful interception requests.”
Several reports have also emerged stating that the government may even be tapping internet traffic flowing through underwater cables between India and other parts of the world.