The government said it is not possible to monitor all mobile phone messages, including WhatsApp, in the country. “It is not possible to monitor all cellular phones including WhatsApp and messages of all the mobile holders in the country as the lawful interception can be done only by the authorised designated Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs),” Telecom Minister Manoj Sinha informed the Rajya Sabha. Also Read - WhatsApp to allow select users to choose different skin combinations for couple emojisAlso Read - WhatsApp users on iPhone will soon able to Undo Status, suggests report
He said the government has decided to set up the Centralised Monitoring System (CMS) to automate the process of lawful interception and monitoring of telecommunications. “Technology development and pilot trials have been completed. Twenty Regional Monitoring Centres (RMC) out of 21 RMC and a Centralised Monitoring Centre (CMC) have been technically commissioned. The remaining one RMC and the Disaster Recovery Centre for CMC are scheduled to be commissioned by year end,” Sinha said.
The minister said the interception can be done under the provisions of Indian Telegraph Act and the Department of Telecom in this regard has already issued a standard operating procedure on December 24, 2014. ALSO READ: WhatsApp now has 1 billion daily active users globally
“Unlawful phone tapping is a punishable offence under Section 25 and 26 of the Indian Telegraph Act. The punishment for unlawful interception is an imprisonment for a term, which may extend to 3 years or with fine or with both,” Sinha said.