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MHA tells central agencies not to seek CDR access details from telcos

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has asked all the Central law enforcement agencies to not approach the telecom service providers directly to get details of other central agencies, who have accessed the call data records (CDR).

A source said that the direction was issued last month after the Centre received complaints from a few agencies, specifically those working in the counter terrorism cases, alleging that other agencies on the pretext of getting details of their suspects, are also seeking information of some specific numbers procured by other agencies/units.

In its communication, the MHA is learnt to have told the agencies that they have received information that the latter are still approaching the department of telecom/telecom service providers (TSPs) seeking specific details of other agencies, who had procured CDR, location data and Internet Protocol Detail Record of specific telephone/mobile number from the TSP.

“The MHA is learnt to have also told that it also came to fore in some matters that sometimes officers, within the same agency/department are also seeking details of request made by the other officer,” the official said, citing the communication.

An official said the standard operating procedure (SOPs) for the lawful interception and monitoring for TSPs issued in 2014 by the DoT after consultation with the MHA prohibits the TSPs from divulging, sharing, dissemination of such information, except when specifically, so authorised by the Centre, which is MHA in this case. The MHA is learnt to have asked the agencies to avoid seeking specific details going against the SOPs.

The MHA directed that if it is absolutely necessary to get such details, then the request should be made by the Head of Authorised Security and agencies along with full justification to MHA for consideration of the competent authority, the official added.

In 2014, after the furore over unauthorised access to CDRs of then Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha, Arun Jaitley, the MHA had decided to issue new guidelines. In 2019, the then Union MoS for Home, Hansraj Gangaram Ahir, was asked if the Government had received complaints from telecom firms in connection with seeking CDRs illegally. He said: “Central government has not received any complaint from telecom companies regarding seeking of CDRs…” Indian Express

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