UPSC MAINS 2020: NATGRID

Topic : NATGRID

Topic in Syllabus: General Studies Paper 2: Indian Governance

Context:

NATGRID wants to link social media accounts to central database

 

NATGRID:

  • NATGRID is the integrated intelligence grid which connects databases of core security agencies.
  • The collected comprehensive patterns of intelligence can be readily accessed by 10 intelligence agencies( Research and Analysis Wing, Intelligence Bureau, Central Bureau of Investigation, Financial Intelligence unit, Central Board of Direct Taxes, Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, Enforcement Directorate, Narcotics Control Bureau, Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs and the Directorate General of GST Intelligence), with certain databases that would be procured from 21 organisations. 
  • It will not have a database of its own, rather it will have a collated database connected with software

 

Purpose of linking social media accounts:

  • The NATGRID project wants to link social media accounts to the huge database of records related to –
    • Tax and Bank account details
    • Credit card transactions,
    • Visa and Immigration records,  
    • Itineraries of Rail and Air travel.
  • Linking social media accounts will help to track online terror-related information exchange through individual accounts,(e.g twitter handles)
  • Online radicalisation across the country can be curbed. 

Starting in 2014, cases surfaced of young adults trying to join ISIS online, without ever having face-to-face contact with a recruiter. In December 2014, Bangalore police arrested Mehdi Masroor Biswas for operating the Twitter account @ShamiWitness, an ISIS propaganda account that was considered one of the most influential ISIS Twitter handles

 

Legal and ethical issues involved:

  • Intelligence agencies have felt it would impinge on their territory and possibly result in leaks on the leads they are working on with other agencies. 
  • The efficiency of the project is questioned as no state agency or police force has access to its database. 
  • Activists are claiming that it will cause a breach of privacy for users.
  • Officials fear that linking social media accounts to sensitive government data could expose the system to “Trojan attacks.”

 

Trojan:

A Trojan is a type of malware that is often disguised as legitimate software. Trojans can be employed by cyber-thieves and hackers trying to gain access to users’ systems. Once activated, Trojans can enable cyber-criminals to spy, steal sensitive data, and gain backdoor access to one’s system. Unlike computer viruses and worms, Trojans are not able to self-replicate.

 

Impact of the proposal:

  • The database, will ensure that amongst the innumerable suspects or terrorist, the search will narrow down the results to just two or three.
  • Answer for every query, will be obtained within seconds
  • Natgrid will not only help to trace the current location of the suspect but also aid in backtrack-ability. 
  • Once fully functional, will help in real-time tracking of a terror operative or suspect.
  • Entire history of the suspect will be before agency tracking the person. For instance, the identification of mobile number, his current status, bank balance, his travel destination etc…

 

Sample Question:

Critically discuss various concerns expressed on the initiatives of the NATGRID. (150 Words)