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PRISM fallout: Indian agencies put US companies under scanner

August 05, 2013 15:43 IST

Indian agencies have put United States-based companies under the scanner following a report that suggests that the US had one server located in India as part of the clandestine mass electronic surveillance data mining PRISM programme.

Although the US has assured India that it did not collect personalised information, Indian agencies would be conducting their own investigation on the sort of data that has been snooped into. There was just one server in India which allowed the US National Security Agency to snoop into e-mails, online chats and also browsing history. The NSA had said that e-mail logs and timings were collected but not the content. All this data was purged in 2011.

Indian agencies would now question companies capable of setting up such servers about the details of this programme. “We are interested in finding out if personal data has gone out and also whether some critical information regarding our security has been snooped into. The details of the company that helped set up this server is also being ascertained,” an official from the Intelligence Bureau told

Indian agencies say that companies such as Dell, HP and IBM dominate the server market in India and they are trying to find out if any of these companies had a role to play. Only some of the US based companies are capable of making chips which can be attached to such servers for snooping and hence the suspicion is on these companies.

“We are sure that no Indian company has helped in setting up such a server for the US,” the IB official also said.

“We would want to know the kind of data that has been snooped into. Even if the US has only looked into the terror bases overseas, we expect that the information is shared with us. We would not want a repeat of what happened in the David Headley case,” the official pointed out.

These investigations are being launched in the wake of India wanting to set up its own snooping programme, the CMS. India proposes to go about CMS in a big way and says that they would want to have their own set up since terrorism has become a major headache.

Groups such as the Lashkar-e-Tayiba and the Indian Mujahideen have been using the internet to their advantage and manage to convey messages online. Instead of depending on other countries to crack codes, the CMS will make India extremely self dependant. The CMS programme was launched in the outskirts of New Delhi. In due course, there is a proposal to set up servers in south of India which would help expand the reach of the Indian agencies.

Vicky Nanjappa