V.S. Palaniappan

Advances in communication technology have become a

twin-edged weapon

Coimbatore: The recent incident of three persons from Kerala obtaining ISD line phones through fictitious and forged documents as proof is an eye-opener. If the offender just left the city defrauding the service provider of the bill money, then it was only a monetary loss. But if the ISD calls were used for terror links then the nation’s security had been at stake.

The intervention of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) asking the telecom and mobile service providers to be strict in address and identification proof verification came as some respite for the law enforcing agencies. TRAI even slapped a fine of Rs. 1,000 per connection in the event of an activation being done based on a false or forged identification proof.

Even in the existing set up, the law enforcing agencies are worried at the practice of pre-activated prepaid Subscriber Identification Module (SIM) cards freely being available in the open market. Some operators are de-activating the connection or SIM card only if the address proof provided by the applicant was found to be false or forged. The process gives a time gap of 24 to 36 hours, which is enough for any one to commit any offence. The verification procedures adopted in the case of post-paid connections are more than satisfactory, say officials.

In the event of an offence being committed and the offender being trapped, the police could invoke various sections such as 120 B (Conspiracy), 420 (Cheating), 467 to 471 (Forgery for the purpose of cheating) under the Indian Penal Code. Until then, the offence would only leave them in a ‘state of searching for a black cat in a dark room’, pointed out one of the senior police officers who was involved in the investigation of many such serious cases. The only solace for the police was that the offenders using mobile phones could be easily tracked and located with the help of the technology.

Law enforcers are also worried over the use of Blackberry as the gadget in wrong hands will become an ideal tool.

Use of Blackberry handsets as phone for voice calls are never a problem. In the event of e-mails from computers, the investigators used to track the sender by going through the Internet Protocol address. But in the event of Blackberry, the user enjoys secrecy and confidentiality to the maximum wherein the law enforcers will have to approach the service provider first and then track the caller asking for the identity of the person.

For which, the police should provide the time and date of the e-mail in dispute.

Though the criminals could never dream to be at large forever, the process of investigations and zeroing in on the offender would become a laborious and time consuming process, said investigators.