Published On: Fri, Dec 21st, 2018

Home Ministry authorises 10 agencies to intercept, monitor, decrypt computers

New Delhi: In a decision with wide ramifications, the government has allowed 10 intelligence and investigating agencies and the Delhi Police to intercept, monitor and decrypt “any information” generated, transmitted, received or stored in “any computer”, an action that has come under attack from opposition parties.

In case any person or entity refuses to cooperate, it “will face seven years in jail and a fine”

“In exercise of the powers conferred by sub-section (1) of Section 69 of the Information Technology Act, 2000 (21 of 2000) read with rule 4 of the Information Technology (Procedure and Safeguards for Interception, Monitoring and Decryption of Information) Rules, 2009, the Competent Authority hereby authorises the following Security and Intelligence Agencies for the purposes of interception, monitoring and decryption of any information generated, transmitted, received or stored in any computer resource under the said Act,” an order issued by Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba said.

The 10 agencies are Intelligence Bureau, National Investigation Agency (NIA), Enforcement Directorate (ED), Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), Narcotics Control Board, Central Board of Direct Taxes, Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, Cabinet Secretary (RAW), Directorate of Signal Intelligence (for service areas of Jammu and Kashmir, Northeast and Assam only) and Commissioner of Police, Delhi.

The notification made it clear that any subscriber or service provider person in charge of any computer resource is bound to extend all facilities and technical assistance to these agencies.

In case any person or entity refuses to cooperate, it “will face seven years in jail and a fine”.

The order has come under attack from Congress and other parties.

The Congress party accused Modi government of turning India into a “surveillance state” over its order to put all computers under the watch of intelligence and investigating agencies, and said it was a direct assault on the fundamental right to privacy.

Addressing the media here, Congress leader and former Union Minister Anand Sharma said the government’s move was unacceptable and the opposition will collectively raise the issue in Parliament.

“This is a very serious development, through this order the Modi government is turning India into a surveillance state.

“It is the ultimate assault on the fundamental right to privacy and is in direct conflict with the Supreme Court’s order, which held right to privacy as a fundamental right,” said Sharma.

He also claimed that a host of people including Supreme Court and High Court judges and politicians’ phones were being tapped.

“We have raised the issue several times in Parliament that a large number of people, including politicians, judges, MPs and top government officials’ phones were being tapped by the government.

“The latest order of putting all computers under surveillance is unacceptable in any democracy and we collectively oppose it. The opposition will unitedly raise this issue in Parliament.

“But as this government is unwilling to do, that is why it is not allowing Parliament to function,” added Sharma.

Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala also attacked the Modi government over the issue.

“Modi government mocks and flouts the fundamental right to privacy with brazen impunity. Having lost elections, now wants to scan and snoop your computers. ‘Big Brother Syndrome’ is truly embedded in NDA’s DNA,” said Surjewala.

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