American Government’s Boundless Informant Collected Intelligence from India [PRISM Report]

BigBrother-YourCountryNeedsYou.jpgAmerican government’s spying software, called the Boundless Informant, has collected more than 6.3 billion pieces of intelligence from India in the month of March 2013 alone, a new report revealed.

“Iran was the country where the largest amount of intelligence was gathered, with more than 14bn reports in that period, followed by 13.5bn from Pakistan. Jordan, one of America’s closest Arab allies, came third with 12.7bn, Egypt fourth with 7.6bn and India fifth with 6.3bn,”  The Guardian reported on Friday.

Last week, the newspaper uncovered top-secret documents about the National Security Agency’s (NSA) data-mining tool, called Boundless Informant, which can gather details and provide maps by country based upon the voluminous amount of information it collects from computer and telephone networks across the globe.

Subsequently, technology giants Facebook and Google were accused of participating in US government’s PRISM project that collects  emails, documents, photos and other material for American government agencies to review and provides “backdoor” access to government agencies.

As a reaction to these chain of events, the India’s ISP association (Internet Service Providers Association of India) has asked Indian government to get companies like Google, Facebook to setup local servers.

The Indian government has been trying to get Facebook and others to set up servers within the Indian jurisdiction, but these new developments will make the case stronger for the Indian government.

Meanwhile, the Indian government has also been trying to setup various surveillance methods to keep track of the activity of it’s netizens.

The government has already started a pilot project to implement the controversial Centralised Monitoring System (CMS) capable of tracking online activities including phone calls, chat logs and emails. The monitoring system is designed by the Telecom Enforcement, Resource and Monitoring (TREM) and by the Centre for Development of Telematics (C-DOT) and will be accessible to the intelligence agencies as well as the police.

Here are some of the other methods that could potentially be used to monitor citizen

  • The Aadhaar (UID) numbers, issued by the government to all resident Indians, together with databases maintained by the criminal records bureau or the health department, can lead to profiling.

  • The national population register, containing photographs and biometric scans, is being setup at the cost of Rs 3539 cr. Data collection is underway. Many have been enrolled already.

  • The center has procured software to gain access to secure mobile phones or password protected computers. The home ministry is buying more than 30 licensed software from firms in the US, Canada and Israel to crack seized mobile phones and computers, according to a recent report.

  • The NATGRID (National Intelligence Grid), that is currently in the works, will give security agencies including RAW, IB, CBI, Enforcement Directorate and others to access to collated data from 21 different categories of databases including railway and air travel, income tax, phone records, credit card transactions, bank accounts, property records and other details.

  • The Maharashtra state government plans to install a network of 6,000 CCTV cameras across Mumbai. Bidding has been mired in controversies but the state is going to spend nearly Rs 500 crore to install these cameras. Similar networks are being planned in various parts of the country.

  • A piece of spying software usually used by law enforcement agencies, capable of collecting information such as passwords and Skype calls and sending it to a command and control server remotely, has been found active in India, among 25 countries identified by a Canada based research lab.

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