Government's terror call monitoring system malfunctions

New Delhi:  If your calls are being monitored by the government, you could somehow end up being mistaken for a wanted criminal. That's because the government's high-tech monitoring system for intercepting terror calls has failed.

The Centralised Monitoring System (CMS), which combined the interception of all communication on telephone and the Internet under one roof, has collapsed just two months after it was set up in a major move to strengthen national security.

The CMS was aimed at doing away with human interface, improving secrecy and eliminating data leaks.

But documents accessed by NDTV reveal major faults in the system - it is unable to match content in emails and voice calls with the source, which means, if a phone is being tapped, the CMS is unable to match the speakers with what was said.  

The CMS is unable to sequence any suspicious communication, which will be a major setback for investigations. Documents say the collation of content and 'target' is wrong in half the cases, which could mean that a suspect conversation could be traced to a completely innocent user.

More teething troubles have been revealed. The sharing of critical information is also not being done on real time basis and often don't reach the CMS at all.

Also, there is poor synchronization between the private telecom service providers and CMS, so it is very difficult to establish the sequence of events for when and how long are calls being made by a suspect.

The system is not monitoring calls on roaming and portable numbers. The CMS is unable to monitor 3G video calls, which means programmes like Skype cannot be monitored - a big loophole in ensuring national security.

Perhaps the biggest and most shocking of all the errors is that the CMS is unable to access data from suspect if they are using devices that are on roaming. According to sources the CMS can only access data that being sent to such devices but is unable to access data sent out from the device.

The Department of Telecom, which set up the CMS, says major loopholes in the system have to be fixed. It has also asked private telecom operators to get their act together.

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