Intel agencies warn against using foreign satellite for CCTNS project

Warned by intelligence agencies that using a foreign satellite in the proposed nationwide Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and Systems (CCTNS) could make critical databases vulnerable to eavesdropping by other countries, the Union Home Ministry has decided to take the help of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) to make the project fully indigenous.

When fully operational, the much-delayed CCTNS project will connect 14,000 police stations across all the 28 States and seven Union Territories, thus creating a nationwide networking infrastructure for the evolution of an IT-enabled, state-of-the-art tracking system for crime investigation and detection of criminals. The CCTNS is a group of some 820 VSATs (two-way ground satellite systems) that will be networked by a satellite. BSNL was the original agency in charge of providing ground services. Since, the intelligence agencies raised objections to the proposed use of the IPSTAR satellite managed by Thaicomm in the project, the BSNL diverted to this project some 400 VSATs that it had for other services. The remaining VSATs are to be installed by the BSNL working with the ISRO, and the satellite would be provided by the ISRO. A recent note exchanged between the Home Ministry and the Department of Telecom says: “On subsequent deliberations within the Ministry on the concerns and security risks involved in using a foreign satellite for the premier and highly secured CCTNS network in consultation with IB and NTRO, later BSNL was asked by the (Home) Ministry to deploy…

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