COAI, CIS to Discuss Legal Framework for Voice and Data Surveillance

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COAI, CIS to Discuss Legal Framework for Voice and Data Surveillance
In order to discuss possible legal frameworks to enable surveillance of voice and data communications in India, the Cellular Operators' Association of India (COAI) along with the Centre for Internet and Society (CIS) will hold seven roundtable meetings across the country in the coming weeks on privacy and surveillance issues.

The recommendations and dialogues from each of these roundtables will be compiled and submitted to the relevant ministries of the government, a statement issued by COAI said on Friday.

The roundtable meetings will take place in Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Chennai and twice in New Delhi.

These roundtables are closed-door meetings involving multiple stakeholders such as the industry leaders, policy makers, and experts from the legal fraternity and civil society.

"In the era of freedom, when data connectivity via the Internet, has emerged as one of the most powerful tools for communications, infringement of customer privacy by government agencies through telecom networks have forced the industry to initiate discussions on the international best practices on communications privacy and surveillance, and the relevant Indian jurisprudence... COAI, with the Centre for Internet and Society has taken this initiative by bringing the relevant stakeholders on a common platform to discuss the matter to arrive at an acceptable conclusion," COAI Director General Rajan S Mathews said.

According to Bhairav Acharya, who advises the CIS: "Legal reform is necessary to identify the limits of permissible surveillance, the protection of privacy, the procedure of intercepting communications, the expectations of service providers, and freedom of all Indians. The law must keep up with technological advancements to create a balanced, proportionate and fair mechanism to enable and regulate surveillance. This will serve India's national interest."

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