Cops using call records, text messages to tickle funny bone; could be used to black mail people if out in public
City police officials are going through a huge cache of text messages and phone call records to tickle their funny bone and to 'pass the time’, in a gross violation of the public's right to privacy, Monday's edition of Kantipur Daily reported.
Scouring through records that were acquired to investigate the Justice Rana Bahadur Bam murder case has become a pass time for junior officials at the Metropolitan Police Commissioner’s Office, it has been revealed.
As senior officials leave the office after work, their junior colleagues gather at the investigation cell to scour the trove of call records and text messages, a source told the Daily. The personnel look for texts and call records related to people's intimate details and business deals for a good laugh, added the source.
"Till today only junior officials are in on this," said a police official requesting anonymity. "If the records are to make their way into the media, then they could be used to black mail people and ruin the conjugal lives of many people."
This comes as Telecom companies, which used to provide call details to police upon request, recently adopted a policy to provide such information only to a selected authorities --the Central Investigation Bureau, Metro police investigation bureau and anti-terrorism cell, APF and the Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority. All of them have been given an email id through which they can send requests for the call details.
Telecom experts say that as many people have access to the email id, there is no guaranteeing that the information will not end up in the wrong hands. In addition to that, some police offices directly contact the telecom companies to acquire call details, bypassing their chain of command.
"Lalitpur police makes direct requests to us. It should be coming through the CIB. As we cannot say no, we give them the information," said an employee at Nepal Telecom.
But police officials are not the only ones listening in on the public's private lives. Employees of telecom companies have time and again used their position to gain access to call details. The information is being used to black mail people, get details about personal enemies and so on.
A woman from Bhaktapur was recently complaining to a Nepal Telecom official at the Pulchowk office that her husband had gained access to her call details and was threatening to leave her because he said I was unfaithful to him. "I should also be able to see his call details," she told the official.
"A senior journalist contacted me to get call details for a number. But he did not tell me why he needed the information," said a police official. "Later I found out that he was looking for the call details of UML leader KP Oli."
Many countries in the world provide call details to security officials, Advocate Tulsi Bhatta, who has worked with Nepal Telecom Authority, told the daily. Except in rare circumstances, police need to get permission from civil authorities to gain access to call records, he said. "We have suggested that either the secretary at the ministry of information or the home ministry be given the authority to decide who gets the call records and when," added Bhatta. nepalnews.com