India doubles budget for monitoring system

Indian government doubles its original budget of about US$70 million to build a system to track voice calls, social media usage, and can be used without prior approval or subsequent disclosures, according to The Hindu report.

The Indian government has nearly doubled its initial budget of US$70 million (4 billion rupee) to develop the centralized monitoring system (CMS), which can be used to monitor calls and e-mail in real-time.

The budget increase was detailed in project documents obtained by local daily The Hindu, although the specific budget amount was not revealed. It also reported that government agencies can use the CMS to monitor and deliver, in real-time, Intercept Relating Information (IRI) across 900 million mobile and fixed lines, as well as 160 million Internet users.

Leveraging the existing Lawful Interception Systems (LIS) currently installed in the network of all telcos and ISPs (Internet service providers), the system can track voice calls, social media usage, and even partially written e-mail messages in draft folders. Additionally, it will use cellphone tower information to pinpoint a user's location. 

Government departments or companies can monitor and extract information without the prior approval of telcos, The Hindu report said. "With the CMS, all authorizations remain secret within government departments," it noted.

The monitoring system had been successfully trialed in the Indian states of Delhi and Haryana, and similar tests will be conducted in Kerala, Karnataka, and Kolkata. The aim is to cover approximately a dozen states by the end of 2013, The Hindu said.