India and Global Terror Database

IAS Prelims 2023

An ambitious plan for exchange of information on terrorists on a real time basis between India and the US has been dropped from the proposed Homeland Security Dialogue to be held in June.

The Homeland Security Presidential Directive (HSPD-6) is a model text agreement proposed by the United States to India for exchange of terrorist screening information between Terrorist Screening Centre (TSC) of the US and an Indian agency.

There have been several rounds of discussions between the interlocutors of the US and India in the past one year and both sides have narrowed down their differences on several key issues with the aim of signing the pact in the next Homeland Security Dialogue to be attended by Home Minister Rajnath Singh and his US counterpart Jeh Johnson and likely to be held in June.

However, the proposed agreement has been dropped from the agenda apparently due to the objections from Indian intelligence agencies.

The US has already finalised such agreements with 30 countries.

TSC is a multi agency organisation administered by FBI which consolidates several terrorist watch list maintained by different US government agencies into single terrorist data base on terror suspects.

R&AW has agreed to the proposed draft in principle, the Intelligence Bureau has expressed reservation initially saying the arrangement primarily protects US interests.

Later, Indian security agencies came to the conclusion that there was no disadvantage in entering into the proposed pact with TSC and IB will be the nodal agency and be designated as the Indian party to the agreement.

It was agreed that while signing the pact, it must be ensured that privacy issues are taken care of with respect to the Indian position.

TSC or Terrorist Screening Centre is a multi agency organisation administered by the FBI consolidates several terrorist watch lists into a single terrorist screening database. The TCS data base that the US has created after getting into agreements with nearly 30 countries includes nationality, date of birth, photographs, fingerprints and passport number of the suspects.

A section of counter terror officials feel that India should only get into the agreement if the US government can ensure that internet related information needed by Indian agencies from various service providers can be given without a delay.

An earlier home ministry note on the subject said, “There is a view that in return for signing of the agreement, we secure from US side progress in areas of concern in counter terrorism to the Indian side, such as access to internet related data held by US based services.”

Keeping in mind the differences between agencies a bargaining strategy with US authorities to ensure that the information sharing is not one sided was put in place. Sources said with no breakthrough to get access to cyber data from US service providers the proposal is not being taken up for the time being.