Why is internet monitoring and tracking necessary for a country like India? India is a very large country and people here have been enjoying complete freedom of expression and speech irrespective of the medium of communication. At the same time, India has been a soft target for terrorist attacks and other related activities. Due to the huge population, it is very difficult to ensure full-proof ground level security. But, with the advent of technology, India can atleast manage to curb the instincts of any terrorists or ill-wishers who may use internet medium to plan any misdeeds. Use of internet has grown by leaps and bounds in India in the last few years. People have been using internet for staying active on social networking sites, making international calls to friends and family, sending emails across the globe, etc. Though these things have helped common man to remain in touch with a lot of people so easily, they have increased the risk along with it. It is very easy for anyone to use the internet medium for planning the wrong type of activities, since no one is keeping any eye on this medium. Hence, it had become increasingly important that India came up with something that prevented misuse of internet. Monitoring internet activities and ensuring no wrongdoings are done via internet medium has slowly become the need of the hour. Government of India has answered this need and will soon come up with India's very own internet monitoring system NETRA (NEtwork TRaffic Analysis).
Information about Netra
Netra will soon be launched by Government of India. It is a sort of internet spy system for defence ministry which shall help in keeping a watchful eye on internet activities across India. This internet monitoring system has been developed by CAIR (Center for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics) which is a lab under DRDO (Defence Research and Development Organisation). CAIR is even working closely with C-DoT (Centre for Development of Telematics) for devising some strategy to track usage of internet.
Some useful operational features of Netra will be as listed under:
-This spy system will help to detect some blacklisted words used in Facebook status updates, Twitter tweets, email exchanges, internet phone calls, online sms services, blogs, etc. Some examples of such security threatening keywords are bomb, destroy, blast, kill, terror, attack, guns, weapons, etc.
-Netra will even be able to track any suspect voice traffic signals through internet calling software like Skype, Google Talk, etc.
-Once Netra system is put in place and made operational, around 300 GB of storage space will be probably provided to 3 important security agencies like IB, Cabinet Secretariat, RAW, etc. for intercepted internet traffic. In addition, approximately 100 GB of storage space will be provided to other security related or law enforcement agencies.
Thus, Netra is a sincere attempt by Indian government to safeguard security of Indians by tracking all possible modes of communication over internet for usage of any sensitive keywords or security threatening keywords.
Future plans for internet surveillance in India
The launch of Netra will just be a stepping stone for internet monitoring & spy activities as well as other IT security practices in India. Successful deployment of Netra system might encourage establishment of a national internet scanning and coordination centre in India. This centre could be built on similar lines as observed in other countries like UK, USA, China, etc.
Will Netra curb the freedom of expression of internet users?
Internet users in India need not worry about a surveillance system like Netra as long as they are not making any unwarranted posts on sensitive issues that might bring them under the security scanner of Netra. It is every Indian citizen's responsibility to exhibit their right to freedom of speech and expression in the correct way. As long as each one of us understands this and implements it, we won't be impacted by any internet surveillance measures adopted by Indian government in future.
Read The basic tips to protect online internet banking account.
Surveillance is fine if the information is kept confidential. However, often the surveillance is misused to
1. Steal login names and passwords
2. Hack into laptops, computers and frame the laptop owner for activities he or she is not involved in.
3. Steal confidential financial information that should be kept private
How is Netra going to address these concerns of the average internet user in India?
Thanks for your comments. Netra is a start made by Government of India and we should appreciate it. We cannot jump to conclusions about the misuse of such a system without giving it a try. Netra has been developed by CAIR, which is quite reputed. We need to trust their abilities to provide us with a full-proof system. There will be testing done for that system usage and only after it delivers quality results, will it be implemented for real-time usage.
Those in power always have the tendency to misuse their position. Indians don't have much respect for their privacy unlike their European or American counterparts. Unrestricted use of spying mechanism is not at all good. If spying is necessary it should be done by proper mechanisms like getting a permission from a court or some other responsible body.
We have already seen how in Gujrat politicians misused official machinery to spy of an innocent girl.
If by NETRA the Indian government can monitor all forms on communication then it can be easily misused to silence its critics. Every one has in his/her life some secrets which nowadays are commonly stored online like chats and emails. This data can be misused to threaten people who voice their opinions against government. Indian public might be too late in recognizing this danger and till then quite a loss would have been done.