Groups such as the Indian Mujahideen or the Tehrik-e-Taliban Hindustan which have been creating social media accounts to convey secret messages of terror will have a tough time ahead. This is thanks to a programme called Netra an internet spy system which will become a reality in a few months from now.
Security agencies had been complaining that there is no proper system in place which helps capture coded messages that are sent out between terrorist outfits. Recently the ISI too developed a new voice system to communicate without coming under the radar of the agencies.
What Netra intends to do is detect key words which are related to terrorism. The words such as bomb, kill, attack, blast, attack etc will be picked up by this system which will be under the control of the defence ministry. Apart from keeping a tab accounts on twitter, facebook, this system would also scrutinise blogs through which codes messages are shared. There would also be a tab on voice calls made through Skype or other services.
The system will pick up any word that is suspicious and each of this would fall into a data base. There would be a team of persons who would analyse these words and decide whether the same is actionable or not. The advantage of Netra is that it would catch such suspicious conversations in real time which would ensure that the reaction time is very quick. Most of the time what happened is that the code was known much later as a result of which several plans were executed before the agencies could get on their trail.
Developed by the Centre for Artificial Intelligence & Robotics under the Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO), this programme would involve the Intelligence Bureau and the Research and Analysis Wing as well. Netra would perform the job of a full time internet scanner and the messages would keep dropping into the data base in real time.
Very recently the Indian agencies did face a problem when an account of the Indian Mujahideen cropped up on twitter. Although later it was found that the account was not created by the Indian Mujahideen, IB officials believe that such accounts do create a lot of nuisance. The same is the case with the latest discovery- Tehrik-e-Taliban, Hindustan. This group opened a facebook page and spoke about Ghazwa-e-Hind which means the destruction of India. Officials say that they may not be planning attacks, but it does create a debate which leads to a lot of indoctrination. With the help of programmes such as Netra we can pick up information at real time and shut down such pages without wasting much time.
While on the face of it, Netra is expected to pick up suspicious words, there is still more work remaining on the project. Some time words associated with terrorism are sent out in coded text. The recent incident in which a Lashkar-e-Tayiba operative from Haryana was arrested is an example. In his coded message to attack Delhi, he had said, the wedding date is ready. Netra may not be able to pick up coded messages, but work is on to provide a system that would indicate messages which are fishy.
(Story first published on rediff.com)