ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Architecture of Surveillance

Recent events involving the Indian state's agencies' relentless surveillance of citizens and censorship show an alarming contempt towards issues of privacy. This article outlines the framework of law regarding these subjects in India, and internationally, and warns about the creeping move towards a surveillance-led police state in India.

The media reports about the relentless snooping on a young woman by the Gujarat police and intelligence agencies at the behest of a very high dignitary, the Radia tapes and the petition on privacy before the Supreme Court (SC) filed by Ratan Tata all indicate intrusive surveillance by the Indian state’s agencies domestically.

The new jewel in the crown is the centralised monitoring system (CMS). Every call made either from a landline or mobile phone can be listened to and its location fixed. All text messages, emails and searches on the internet can be collated and analysed. In April 2013, the United Nations’ Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression cited the Indian state’s CMS as threatening to “take communications surveillance out of the realm of judicial authorisation and allow unregulated, secret surveillance, eliminating any transparency or accountability on the part of the State”.

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