Vol. 10 (2014)

The Central Monitoring System And Privacy: Analysing What We Know So Far

Jaideep Reddy

State-run surveillance is as old as the ages, but the wired state of our lives has put it in the spotlight more now than perhaps ever before. Our communication and data can often be veritable repositories of all that we are, and many governments today have the technological means to give them relatively easy access to most of our private data. Civil society around the world has therefore naturally expressed concern over the increasing scope of State surveillance. The Central Monitoring System (hereafter, “CMS”) is a new technology for State surveillance in India, and is in the nascent stages of implementation. It was in 2009, amidst the first hints of information from government sources about this new technology that concern began to arise in civil society in India about the impact of the new form of surveillance on private data and communication. This paper, based on an analysis of the little and scattered official information available on the CMS, discusses, from a privacy viewpoint, the extent to which the CMS is likely to change the landscape of State surveillance in India from what it is today. A tentative evaluation is also made of whether the CMS looks likely to achieve the security-privacy balance, followed by certain suggestions that may help in achieving such a balance.

Author

Associate, Samvād: Partners. B.A. LL.B. (Hons.), West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences, 2013.