Eavesdropping Enigma Of Phone Tapping In India

April 2, 2024
Phone Tapping in India

In a highly technological society, privacy when communicating is becoming increasingly vulnerable. This is most clearly demonstrated by the growing apprehension over phone tapping, especially in a country as big and diverse as India. The act of listening in on telephone conversations, allegedly for security purposes, is bringing up significant moral, legal, and constitutional problems. 

Phone Tapping in India

  • Phone tapping, also known as cell phone monitoring or tracing, is the practice of employing various applications to follow a user’s phone calls and other actions.
  • The targeted individual is largely not informed of any such activity during this operation.
  • Authorities can accomplish this by submitting a legally-mandated request to the service provider asking them to record the talks on the specified number and make them available in real-time via a computer that is connected.

How Do You Find out if Your Phone is Tapped?

  • Strange Noises on Calls: Your calls may be being recorded if you sense a high-pitched hum, pulsating static, clicking, or beeping. There’s a chance that call-forwarding was installed without your consent or that the device has spyware that records phone calls.
  • Higher Usage of Mobile Data: Numerous apps consume enormous amounts of data, particularly when you’re not using free public Wi-fi. If your children use your gadget while you are out of the house, the situation gets worse. If there is a significant increase in this amount, you must determine the precise cause. If you are unable to determine the cause, it may be that someone else is reading your communications.
  • The Phone Won’t Turn Off: Your phone may be being tapped if it is having problems shutting off. When shutting down your phone, examine if the backlight remains on or if any attempts to shut it down are unsuccessful. Rebooting or turning off at random is another red flag.

What to do if your phone is tapped?

  • Activate the Airplane Mode: The first thing to do is turn your phone off by placing it in the Airplane Mode if you suspect it has been tapped. This will stop the hacker from remotely accessing your phone because it will no longer be able to use Wi-Fi or cellular data. After that, you can investigate to see if anything is wrong.
  • Take Out Untrustworthy Apps: Look through the list of apps on your device and remove any that you are unsure about. To find out which apps consume the most battery life, you may also examine the device’s battery settings. Uninstall any third-party apps you discover are consuming excessive amounts of power right away.
  • Reset your Device: Try a complete factory reset of your device to remove any software that might be infecting it if everything else fails. If you decide to take that path, be sure you have backups of every bit of data on your phone, but be aware that if you have extremely sophisticated spyware on your device, this method may not work.

Phone Tapping Laws and Regulations in India

The Indian Telegraph Act, 1885: 

  • According to the Indian Telegraph Act and phone tapping, the States or the federal government may tap phones in the event of a public emergency or in the interest of public safety, per Section 5(2) of the Act.
  • If they determine that it is required for the sake of public safety, “India’s sovereignty and integrity, the security of the State, friendly relations with foreign States, public order, or to stop the commission of an offense being incited,” they have the authority to give the directive.

Press Exception:

  • Unless this subsection forbids it, press messages from accredited correspondents of the Central or State Governments that are meant to be published in India may not be intercepted or held.
  • Reasons for tapping must be documented in writing by the appropriate authority.

Punishment for Phone Tapping in India

  • The right to privacy is violated by unauthorized interception, and the person who was wronged may complain to the Human Rights Commission.
  • When someone learns about illegal phone interception, they can file a formal complaint at the closest police station. 
  • Moreover, under Section 26(b) of the Indian Telegraphic Act, which stipulates a three-year prison sentence for anyone detained for unlawful interception, the harmed party may file a court case against the individual or business engaging in the Act in an unauthorized manner. If someone intercepts a phone call with authorization but shares the info in an explicit way, they may also face legal action.

Supreme Court Judgment on Phone Tapping

The recent phone tapping case in India is as follows:

  • In the case of People’s Union for Civil Liberties v UOI & Ors., in this ruling, the Supreme Court ruled that tapping someone’s phone without the necessary protections or due process constituted an infringement on their basic right to privacy.

Phone Tapping in India FAQs

1. What is the power of phone tapping?

In India, phone tapping is regulated by the Indian Telegraph Act of 1885. The press has been granted an exemption.

2. Can calls be tapped by the Government?

The Indian government’s phone tapping policy and its permissible uses are limited. The only times the government has the right to listen in on a private conversation are in times of public emergency or when it is required to ensure public safety.

3. Who permits phone tapping?

By an order issued at the Ministry of Home Affairs in the case of the Government of India and by the Secretary to the Government of India. In the event of a State Government, the Secretary to the State Government is in charge of the Home Department.

4. Can phone tapping be used in court?

Documentary evidence is defined as electronic documents created for a court’s scrutiny under Section 3 of the Indian Evidence Act, of 1872. According to the same act’s Sections 65A and 65B, electronic records are allowed. Call recordings are admissible in court because of these regulations.

5. How do phones get tapped?

Downloading spyware on your iPhone or Android, or tricking you into downloading it, allows a hacker to listen in on your phone. Additionally, law enforcement only needs to get in touch with your carrier to listen in on any phone conversation they make.

6. Can WhatsApp calls be tapped?

Only the recipient’s device can decrypt calls and texts that are encrypted on the sender’s device. This makes it more difficult for someone to read the messages or hear in on the calls that are intercepted.

7. Can anybody tap my phone?

When someone gains unauthorized access to your smartphone or other mobile device, it can be tapped. Spy apps are typically used to compromise cell phones and smartphones, whilst specialist hardware and software are typically used to tap cordless landline phones.

8. Can the police tap your number?

The act of tapping someone is a grave violation of their privacy. According to the Indian Telegraph Act, tapping is allowed in certain situations, such as a national emergency or when it’s in the public interest.

9. What warrants a phone tap?

Law enforcement needs a warrant in order to wiretap someone they suspect of being suspicious. They have to establish probable cause and demonstrate that the wiretap will aid in the investigation of a major crime. Money laundering, terrorism, and human trafficking are a few instances of serious crimes.

10. Is legal phone tapping permissible under the IT Act 2000?

In India, tapping a phone requires the approval of the relevant government or court. If not, someone caught unlawfully tapping phones may face legal repercussions from the government. Phone tapping is permitted under Section 5 of the Indian Telegraph Act, but only in situations involving public safety or emergency.

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