Mastering the Art of Keeping Indians Under Surveillance

[Excerpt] The Central Monitoring System (CMS) is an attempt to co-opt the interface between government and the purveyors of communications; because if the state cannot control communications, it cannot control society. It represents the natural culmination of the progression of Indian surveillance. However, in its present state, Indian surveillance law is unable to bear the weight of the CMS project, and must be vastly strengthened to protect privacy and accountability before the state is given direct access to communications.

Why Ratan Tata is wrong about privacy: Part I – background, facts, and issues

[Abstract] The Supreme Court of India will soon deliver its judgment in the case of Ratan Tata v. Union of India that examines important issues of free speech and privacy. The case deals with the interception of telephone conversations over several years, the ‘leak’ of those confidential telephone conversations to reveal large-scale impropriety and corroboratory evidence of wholesale corruption, and the publishing of such information by the press. In these series of posts, I will examine: (a) the free speech right of the press to publish confidential information in the larger public interest; (b) the right of the public to know of corrupt and illegal activities versus the duty of confidentiality and official secrecy; and, (c) the breach of the statutory or tortious duty of confidentiality in respect of taped conversations. This first post looks at the background, facts of the case, and legal issues.

National Roundtable – Privacy and Surveillance in India (click for video)

This is a brief introduction to the law of privacy and communications surveillance in India, at a National Roundtable on Privacy and Surveillance at the India International Centre in New Delhi on 4th July 2014. The Roundtable was convened to discuss proposals to reform existing laws relating to the interception of communications in India. Current […]

Legislating for Privacy in India

Abstract: India’s federal polity demands caution from those proposing surveillance law. Because the States are solely empowered to regulate law and order and the police, Union surveillance law must be careful not to exceed its bounds. However, in the Bharat Shah case, the Supreme Court disturbed this constitutional scheme. In any event, any law that seeks to regulate interceptions of communications must obey three principles: (i) the interception must be properly authorised, (ii) the interception must be based on ‘probable cause’, and (iii) the interception warrant must be strictly construed.