India Cracks Down on Unauthorized Communication Snooping

The Indian government on Thursday said that it has discovered that private vendors, detective agencies and companies have imported equipment that is capable of illegally monitoring mobile and other communications.

In a statement through the country's Press Information Bureau (PIB), the government has warned that under the law, no equipment can be used for unauthorized communication network monitoring, intercepting and surveillance of communications.

However, the government said the Indian Telegraph Act of 1885 grants it the authority to intercept communications in the interests of national sovereignty and integrity, state security, friendly relations with foreign states or public order, or for preventing incitement to the commission of an offense.

The Indian government has invoked that law in demanding that Research In Motion provide law enforcement agencies access to BlackBerry communications. The government is worried that terrorists are using mobile and online communications to plan attacks.

People and companies that possess equipment capable of monitoring and intercepting communication must provide details of the equipment within 60 days of the publication of the PIB release, the government said.

Failure to report or suppress information will make the offenders liable to prosecution under the law, which calls for a fine and jail time of up to three years, according to the PIB.

John Ribeiro covers outsourcing and general technology breaking news from India for The IDG News Service. Follow John on Twitter at @Johnribeiro. John's e-mail address is john_ribeiro@idg.com

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