Monitoring mobile phone usage of suspects is an integral aspect of law-enforcement operations and by tracking particular mobile phone numbers, they too have been able to solve many crimes, or help to exonerate people if they are found to be innocent.
While privacy concerns dominate the discourse on the interception of phone calls in many western nations, it is not such an issue in India. Perhaps it should be, because surely Indian citizens too have as much right to their privacy as those in any other part of the world.
What they say or write to each other should be between the sender and the recipient. Criminals, however, should not be allowed to use technology for their nefarious designs and thus law-enforcement agencies have the right to intercept such communication, provided they do so with oversight.
Tracking the movement of criminal suspects through their phones, on the other hand, is far less controversial and is, in fact, something that is used practically all over the world. The Department of Telecommunication requires mobile companies to provide “location-based service” (LBS) to law- enforcement agencies as well as those connected with national security. It is surprising that various telecommunication companies have, till now, not given LBS access to the government agencies concerned. At the root of the matter is the question of who will bear the cost of setting up such a service.
The government should step in promptly to ensure that whatever problems exist should be sorted out promptly. On the other hand, various telecom companies would be well advised to look beyond the bottom-line and provide the needed access. With the rising crime graph, in an increasingly insecure world, law-enforcement and national security agencies need all the tools that can help them in discharging their duties.