Watch the Watchmen Series Part 3 : The Crime and Criminal Tracking Network System

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tl;dr

The Crime and Criminal Tracking Network System (CCTNS) aims to connect police stations across the country to increase ease of access to data related to FIR registration, investigation and chargesheets in all police stations.

History

Like NATGRID and CMS, CCTNS was also developed in the aftermath of the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks by then Home Minister P. Chidambaram to strengthen the internal security architecture of the country. The pilot testing of the Core Application Software (CAS) was started in 15 locations across Assam, Kerala and Uttar Pradesh, from 1st October 2011. The testing continued till January, 2013. During the testing, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA)/National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) closely monitored the progress and collected the feedback for issue resolution. The pilot launch of CCTNS was done by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on January 4, 2013 at New Delhi.

The Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and Systems (CCTNS) Project was originally scheduled to be implemented by March, 2015. The implementation of CCTNS is being done in a phased manner and has faced consistent delays. According to the CCTNS Pragati Dashboard Report dated July 31, 2020, overall implementation of the project is currently at 77.8%.

On January 1, 2019, in response to a parliamentary question the then Minister of State in the Ministry Of Home Affairs, Shri Hansraj Gangaram Ahir stated that, “The Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and Systems (CCTNS) has been rolled out nationally and as on 30.11.2018, it has been deployed in 14764 police stations in the country.”

The total estimated cost of this Project is 2000 Crore INR during the 11th Five Year Plan and the actual expenditure as on March 6, 2018 is 1451.398 crore INR.

What is CCTNS?

The CCTNS was envisaged as a system which would help police stations across the country to “talk” to each other. The aim of the project is to digitise all information related to FIRs registered, cases investigated, and charge sheets filed in all police stations, in order to develop a national database of crime and criminals.  This project, which is proposed to be implemented as a Mission Mode Project under the National e-Governance Plan (NeGP) of Govt. of India, aims at creating a comprehensive and integrated system for enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of policing at police station level through adoption of principles of e-Governance by creation of a nationwide networked infrastructure for evolution of IT-enabled state-of–the-art tracking system around “investigation of crime and detection of criminals”. The National Crime Records Bureau is the nodal project implementation agency for review, monitoring and coordination of the project under the overall guidance of the Ministry of Home Affairs.

On December 8, 2015, in response to a parliamentary question, the then Minister Of State In The Ministry Of Home Affairs, Shri Haribhai Parathibhai Chaudhary stated the aim of the project as under:

To fully computerise the process of crime registration, investigation, prosecution etc. in all police stations in the country
To create a central database to provide national level search facility as well as crime analytics for use by police and central agencies
To electronically share data/information among Police Stations & Police Higher Offices
Computerisation of all prisons and provision of necessary hardware, software etc.
To provide citizen services through a Citizen Portal
Sharing of Crime and Criminal related data with Police, Prosecution, Courts, Prison and Forensics leading to Integrated Criminal Justice System

What are the privacy concerns surrounding CCTNS?

CCTNS is being implemented in the country without a data protection law in place. This leads to privacy concerns because the CCTNS is proposed to be integrated with various projects such the National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID) and the National Automated Facial Recognition System (AFRS).  Integration of the CCTNS with these projects would thus allow the state to create complete profiles of citizens. Both these projects have been red-flagged by privacy experts and civil society organisations as potential tools of mass surveillance in the hands of the state. (Read here and here)

For example, in a situation where a person has been wrongfully arrested, the integration of their data into the CCTNS would lead to further violations of their rights. This is because their data is now available to the NATGRID and the AFRS. This allows the government to track their every movement and ultimately violates their fundamental rights.

Who will ‘watch the watchmen’?

This look into CCTNS  is the third in IFF’s new series called Watch the Watchmen. Through this series we aim to look into and analyse the looming surveillance technology threats in India.

Important Documents

  1. Watch the Watchmen Series Part 1 : The National Intelligence Grid dated September 2, 2020 (link)
  2. Watch the Watchmen Series Part 2 : The Centralised Monitoring System dated September 14, 2020 (link)
  3. IFF's Legal Notice to the NCRB on the Revised RFP for the National Automated Facial Recognition System dated July 15, 2020 (link)

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