GOVERNMENT OF INDIA
Ministry of Communications and Information Technology
DEPARTMENT OF TELECOMMUNICATIONS
UNSTARRED QUESTION NO. 1139
ANSWERED ON AUGUST 16, 2013
Violation of Privacy of Indian Citizens/Organisations
1139. SHRI RAJEEV CHANDRASEKHAR:
Will the Minister of COMMUNICATIONS AND INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY be pleased to state:
(a) whether Government has taken any steps to verify or confirm with the Government of United States about the alleged violation of privacy of Indian citizens/organizations through illegal means, as a result of the reported Prism Project;
(b) if so, the details thereof and the steps Government has taken or proposes to take to ensure that such illegal surveillance is curbed; and
(c) the nature of the understanding between India and the US on issues of violations of privacy, such as these?
THE MINISTER OF STATE IN THE MINISTRY OF COMMUNICATIONS AND
(SHRI MILIND DEORA)
(a) & (c) In June 2013, Media reports disclosed about extensive electronic surveillance programme deployed by United States Agencies to collect internet and telecom data. As per media reports, United States agencies used a number of methods to gather intelligence including intercepting communication on fiber cables and infrastructure, collecting information from servers of global internet and Telecom Service Providers. Such companies include Google, Face book, Microsoft, Apple, Yahoo, AOL, YouTube, Pal talk and Skype.
Government has expressed concerns over reported United Slates monitoring of internet traffic from India. Concerns with regard to violation of any Indian laws relating to privacy of information of ordinary Indian citizen as well as intrusive data capture deployed against Indian citizens or government infrastructure have been conveyed to the United States. The issue of United States Cyber Surveillance activities was discussed during the Indo-US (India – United States) Strategic dialogue meeting held in New Delhi on 24.06.2013.
United States officials responded that PRISM dealt only with Meta Data (related to the direction and the flow of the traffic) and only broad patterns of telephony and internet traffic are monitored. United States Officials maintained that data content/content of emails are not accessed or not monitored under these surveillance programmes; therefore it is not a violation of privacy. It was stated by United States that its agencies need to get separate authorization from Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court, if they want to access the content of any of the data intercepted by these surveillance programmes.