Government to launch Netra for internet surveillance

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Netra-traffic-AnalysisThe Indian government will soon launch ‘Netra’ – a NEtwork TRaffic Analysis system for Internet surveillance for the Defence Ministry.

The new system will be able to detect words like ‘attack’, ‘bomb’, ‘blast’ or ‘kill’ from a lot of sources over the Internet.

For now, traffic analysis means intercepting and examining messages in order to deduce information from patterns in communication. It can be performed even when the messages are encrypted and cannot be decrypted.

When in place, the system will search for tweets, status updates, emails, instant messages, internet calls, blogs and forums. In addition, the system can also capture any dubious voice traffic passing through software such as Skype or Google Talk.

‘Netra’ internet surveillance system has been developed by Centre for Artificial Intelligence & Robotics (CAIR), a lab under Defense Research & Development Organization (DRDO). Reports suggest the Home Ministry is planning to approach DRDO to allocate more manpower to CAIR to formulate a strategy for tracking internet use.

“Intelligence Bureau and Cabinet Secretariat are currently testing ‘Netra’, which will be deployed by all national security agencies. The specifications of the ‘Netra’ system can be taken as frozen following tests by the Intelligence Bureau and Cabinet Secretariat, and can be considered for providing multiple user access to security agencies,” a note from telecom department reads.

Monitoring Internet traffic on a real-time basis has become a must for the government given the rise in threats posed by anti-national elements. The NETRA system analyses a huge amount of global data coming to India. Security agencies like the IB and RAW, have each been allotted a maximum of 300 Gigabytes (GB) for storing intercepted internet traffic, and an extra 100 GB is assigned to the remaining law enforcement agencies.