New regulations laid down to check illegal phone tapping

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New Delhi, May 31: After the controversial Niira Radia tapes and Amar Singh, former BSP leader's phone scandals, the Union Minister has called upon all the police chiefs across the country on new guidelines over phone tapping.

The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) are one of the agencies which is granted permission to tap phones.

The decision was taken after a meeting between Pranab Mukherjee, Finance Minister and P Chidambaram, Home Minister of India. A committee consisting of top officials from the country, the Finance and the Telecom Ministries of Home, headed by the Cabinet Secretary along with intelligence and security agencies put forward their proposal that the CBDT should not be given the authority to tap telephones, as this could lead to a possible 'power misuse'.

It was the CBDTs income tax department that leaked the famous Niira Radia tapes to the media.

According to the Statement of Purpose (SOP), soft copies should be deleted forever from the system. CDs and DVDs should be ground to finest powder and destroyed, while in case a hard disc got corrupted, it should be taken for repairs to a vendor.

The Home Ministry is set to make it compulsive to do an annual audit of all telephones tapped by state and central agencies. Passive interception could be made a criminal offence if done with off the air GSM machines.

Amendments to the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885 will be recommended to aggravate the penalty for passive interception. Intelligence agencies have been instructed to hand back off the air GSM machines to DOT (Department of Telecomm).

The state police are also instructed to regulate illegal phone tapping by the private sector.

Proposals to tap phones in the future will be treated as top secret according to the new SOP put down by the government.

OneIndia News

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