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Government issues standard operating procedures for phone-tapping in India

Friday, 10 January 2014 - 5:49pm IST | Place: Delhi | Agency: PTI
Government has come out with a fresh set of do's and don'ts for telecom companies for lawful interception bringing internet telephony VoIP, SMS and MMS under Indian Telegraph Act.

Government has come out with a fresh set of do's and don'ts for telecom companies for lawful interception bringing internet telephony VoIP, SMS and MMS under Indian Telegraph Act.

Requests with overwriting and cutting and the ones received through telephone or fax should not be accepted under any circumstances, according to the circular on mandatory clauses of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for lawful interception and monitoring issued by Department of Telecommunications on January 2.

A senior company officer, who is an Indian citizen and residing in India, should be appointed National Nodal Officer responsible for overall in-charge, coordination and communication and process monitoring across the country.

"The purpose of this Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) is to lay minimum required guidelines for lawful interception and monitoring process across all telecom service providers (TSPs) to ensure systematic and tamper-proof monitoring of target numbers and have uniformity on critical issues of interception and monitoring which should be followed scrupulously," the guidelines said.

The requests for interception and monitoring of voice, Short message Service (SMS), General Packet Radio Service (GPRS) and Value Added Service (VAS) including Multi Message Service (MMS), data and voice in 3G/4G/Long Term Evolution (LTE) including video call or Voice Over Internet protocol (VoIP) call can be made under Indian Telegraph Act.

Besides, requests for interception, monitoring and decryption of information generated, transmitted, received or stored in any computer resource or any other device, handheld or otherwise, which can transact data or store data on such device can be made under Information Technology Act.

"The Home Secretary of a state has been empowered (to sanction lawful interception). This has to be with a written order," Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde told reporters here.

The interception request is approved by Home Secretary for government of India and the Secretary of state Home department in case it pertains to state governments' jurisdiction.

In unavoidable circumstances, an officer of the level of Joint Secretary and above, duly authorised by the Union or the state Home Secretaries can also make such orders for interception.


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