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Govt moots phone tapping agency
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 3
The government today discussed the concept of setting up a central agency for phone tapping with the telecom operators and fine-tuning the Indian Telegraph Act.

The agency would act a liaison between the telecom companies and the security agencies and there would be complete secrecy in the whole operations as to which number was being tapped, industry sources said.

They said both the government and the telecom firms would study the existing model in different countries and come out with suggestions.

The meeting, which was called to discuss ways to evolve a fool-proof mechanism to prevent illegal tapping of telephones, was called in the wake of serious concern expressed by the PMO amid widespread allegations by politicians, including Samajwadi Party leader Amar Singh, that their phones were being tapped.

Officially the government was tight-lipped over the discussion while stating that the discussions were inconclusive.

Cellular Operators Association of India Director General T V Ramachandran told reporters that the meeting went off well and the tapping issue, which threatens national security and privacy of an individual, was discussed threadbare.

Besides Union Home Secretary V K Duggal, Department of Telecom Secretary J S Sarma, Director Intelligence Bureau E S L Narasimhan and Delhi Police Commissioner K K Paul were present at the meeting, in which top executives of all telecom companies were present.

To a question whether the Indian Telegraph Act should be amended, Mr Ramachandran said, “There was no need to change the Act but some fine tuning will be required because of the changing global scene.”

He said fresh guidelines would be issued in this direction, which would be submitted before the Supreme Court.

Bharti Group’s Rajan Mittal said all telecom operators had promised full co-operation with the Government to prevent illegal phone tapping.

Security agencies from time to time tapped the telephones of suspected persons as a preventive measure or establish their involvement in criminal and anti-national acts.
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