Information on India's surveillance practices received under the Right to Information Act, 2005

 

In order to procure details on India's communications surveillance practices, SFLC.in had filed a number of applications over the years under the Right to Information Act, 2005 (RTI Act) before various Ministries and Departments of the Government. This being an extremely sensitive area of law and policy, a good portion of questions raised were not answered over security concerns. Nevertheless, here are some applications that did manage to elicit responses from the addressees.

SFLC.in had filed an RTI application before the Prime Minister's Office in May 2011, seeking certain administrative, budgetary and operational details connected with the National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID) project. This application was forwarded by the PMO to the NATGRID office, which revealed inter alia that the project had been established with the approval of the Cabinet Committee on Security, and that an amount of Rs. 13 crore had been utilized during 2010-2011 for the project's development. The initial application along with the complete set of responses are given below:

RTI Application Reply From NATGRID

In January 2012, SFLC.in filed an RTI application before the Office of the Controller of Certifying Authorities, seeking among others, the number of requests for user data made by the CCA under Section 28 of the Information Technology Act, and the identities of those from whom information was requested. The Office of the CCA responded stating that a total of 73 such requests had been made in 2011 to Yahoo, Google, Facebook, AOL, Orkut and Hotmail. The concerned application and final response are given below:

RTI Application Reply From CCA

SFLC.in had filed an RTI application before the Department of Telecommunications in May 2013, where we had asked for certain budgetary and administrative details regarding the Central Monitoring System (CMS). Though the DOT initially refused to provide the requested information citing security reasons, SFLC.in on tendering an appeal before the First Appellate Authority, was provided copies of responses to questions in this regard that had been raised by parliamentarians before the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. The initial RTI application before the DOT, along with the final reply, are given below:

RTI Application Reply From DOT

In 2011, the Provisioning & Logistics Department of the Delhi Police had issued a global notice inviting "expression of interest" from Indian and foreign technology companies to supply Internet monitoring equipment. SFLC.in filed an RTI application before the Delhi Police in December 2013 seeking a list of companies that had responded to this notice. The response to the RTI revealed 26 Indian and foreign companies as having expressed interest in supplying monitoring equipment. Said RTI application as well as the final reply are given below:

RTI Application Reply From Delhi Police

In March 2014, SFLC.in filed an RTI application before the Union Ministry of Home Affairs, seeking the total number of interception orders issued under Rule 419A of the Indian Telegraph Act, and the number of orders issued by each authority authorized to issue such orders under the Rule. Though the latter part of our application was not answered due to security reasons, the MHA revealed that on an average, around 7500 to 9000 phone interception orders are issued under Rule 419A by the Central Government alone every month. Below are the relevant RTI application and final response from the MHA.

RTI Application Reply From MHA