At a time when security agencies are on high alert in the run-up to Republic Day, the intelligence gathering network of the police has come under severe strain due to non-compliance by telecom and internet service providers in providing support to the men in khaki.
As a result, the Central Monitoring System (CMS) rolled out by the DoT recently has limited reach, a confidential report of the Maharashtra police says. The CMS is a common intelligence gathering platform for government security and law enforcement agencies. According to the report, submitted to the Union Home Ministry last week, the Lawful Interception System (LIS), a frequently used uniform platform for cops and agencies to track and gather cell and internet records, is hampered by several problems.
Location coordinates not being given
A confidential report of the Maharashtra police has said the Lawful Interception System (LIS) a frequently used uniform platform for cops and agencies to track and gather cell and internet records, is hampered not only because service providers have not rolled out a Location Based System (LBS) for the last two years, but also by intrusion from private staff. Simply put, the LBS identifies mobile call locations, and gives the exact longitude and latitude coordinates as part of Call Data Records (CDR). It also provides coordinates of the cell sites. It is this part that GSM operators have been resisting, and have been pushing for the LBS clause to be removed from the Department of Telecommunication (DoT) licence norms.
“At present,” the report reads, “each agency uses the LIS as per the availability of infrastructure with them. But as all agencies are not able to get the full data as required from the ISPs and TSPs, their intelligence collection gets hampered.”
The report highlights the fact that while Cell Global Identity (CGI) must be provided in a 15-digit format, several TSPs provide between 5 and 10 digits, thus revealing only the cell ID in the CDR but not the location coordinates, making it difficult for the police to zoom in on the exact area.
Senior police officials said the CMS had planned to overcome these issues by integrating data and records from TSPs, and redistributing it to the agencies through a Regional Monitoring System (RMS). All interception requests are automatically diverted through CMS. Even records are exchanged between service providers and agencies through CMS and not manually.
“But CMS capabilities are mainly limited to its presently proposed plan. For example, they are available only at State headquarters, not at district and unit levels,” said a senior police official.