By tracking mobile locations the government can improve the security scenario. But care must be taken to not violate personal liberties
ON TOPÂ of the technological and legal issues that frequently pose challenges before telecom operators in India, comes the declared intention of the government to track cell phone locations. Encryption-based service providers such as Research In Motion have been forced to establish servers in India and allow access to messenger services to intelligence agencies in plain, unencrypted form. Nokia has also established a server in India to facilitate law enforcement and intelligence agenciesâ€™ interception demands. Chinese telecom equipment providers such as Huawei and ZTE are trying to disprove the theory of existence of backdoors in their equipments and the government has declared that imported telecom equipments would be locally scrutinised to rule out existence of imbedded backdoors.
Tracking cell phone locations is a troublesome notion as we have no dedicated privacy and data protection laws in India. On top of that, intelligence agencies and CBI are operating without any legal framework about their conduct, rights and obligations and parliamentary oversight.
The intentions of the government may be good in projects such as National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID), Central Monitoring System (CMS), Aadhaar and the National Counter-Terrorism Centre (NCTC). But they should not be implemented without proper management, legal framework and constitutional safeguards.
Similarly, when legal frameworks are missing and constitutional safeguards are ignored, cell phone location tracking in India is more trouble than solution. Cell phone tracking violates constitutional right to privacy if due process is not followed. Even now, despite claims to the contrary, we have no constitutionally sound lawful interception and telephone tapping law in India.