The government of India has asked Telecommunications companies to provide call data records (CDRs) of mobile subscribers of several regions of the country for specific days. While this is not the first time telcos has been asked by the government for call data records but the timing raises concerns as the trend has been increased during January and February, as noted by the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI).
COAI has raised this issue in a letter to Anshu Prakash, Secretary, Department of Telecommunications (DoT) dated February 12th, 2020. The letter mentions that the Licensed Service Area (LSA) units of the DoT have sought for CDR details of mobile subscribers on a regular basis in contravention to the given instructions.
The CDRs available with telecom operators importantly contain sensitive information such as Mobile Station International Subscriber Directory Numbers (MSISDNs), International Mobile Subscriber Identity (IMSI), International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI), and location details of mobile subscribers.
The letter also mentions that the records have been requested on a monthly basis of subscribers in the circles such as Andhra Pradesh, Delhi, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and UT of Jammu & Kashmir, Kerala, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, and Punjab.
Additionally, the local units of the DoT sought additional CDR details on an ad-hoc basis, which in particular case of Delhi circle, CDR details were sought by the DoT between February 2 and February 4.
Notably, this was the time when the campaigns for the Delhi elections were at the peak.
“CDRs sought for specific routes/areas may lead to allegations of surveillance, especially in the state like Delhi having numerous VVIP zones having offices and residences of Ministers, MPs, Judges,” COAI Director General Rajan Mathews wrote in the letter.
As noted by The Indian Express, telecom operators in India have to abide by the law to preserve consumer records including CDRs and Internet Protocol (IP) details for at least one year for scrutiny by the DoT for “security reasons” and the department “may issue directions/ instructions from time to time” with respect to the preserved records. A protocol is also in place for CDRs to be provided to law-enforcement agencies and courts upon their requests or directions.
Source: Gadgets 360