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Internet Freedom Foundation has raised objection to the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) ‘s decision relating to extension in the period of retention of call records and internet usage data from one year to two year. Expressing its concern, the  NGO has demanded from the DoT to recall the amendments and conduct a public consultation before introducing or implementing any similar amendment in the future.

The DoT introduced new amendments to the Unified License through two circulars on December 21 by extending the duration of storing Call Detail Records/Exchange Detail Records/ IP Detail Records of subscribers (‘Subscriber Data’) to two years. Previously, the storage duration for Subscriber Data was one year. This data contains sensitive details regarding attributes of a phone call such as time, duration, completion status, source number and destination.

The NGO said that these amendments were put in place without any public consultation with relevant stakeholders. At present, India does not have any personal data protection law in place to protect the privacy of its citizens. In such a situation, there are no statutory restrictions on authorities when they collect personal data. As a result, they may unnecessarily collect, retain and process data, which results in violations of privacy and misuse of data, stated IFF. The IFF expressed apprehension over the fact that India has a Weak surveillance architecture which leaves enough scope for the possibility of a state sponsored mass surveillance. It further said that  amendments were violative of the Supreme Court’s Right to Privacy & Aadhaar decisions.