Govt authorises 10 central agencies to monitor any computer; sets off political storm

Ten central agencies have been authorised by the Centre to intercept information from any computer, a move that set off a political storm Friday with the opposition accusing the government of trying to create a “surveillance state”

But the Centre said the rules for intercepting and monitoring computer data were framed in 2009 when the Congress-led UPA was in power and its new order only notified the designated authority which can carry out such action

The opposition parties led by the Congress slammed the order as unconstitutional, undemocratic and an assault on fundamental rights and an attempt by the BJP government to convert India into a “surveillance state” by resorting to “snooping”, inviting a sharp response from the ruling party

In a strong defence of the government order, the BJP said it is legal with adequate safeguards and in the interest of national security, dubbing the opposition’s criticism as a “textbook case” of speaking without any homework. The Centre also rejected the opposition’s charge of snooping

The order that authorised 10 central intelligence, security and tax agencies to intercept, monitor and decrypt all the data contained in “any” computer system was issued Thursday night by the ‘cyber and information security’ division of the Ministry of Home Affairs(MHA) under the authority of Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba

The 10 agencies notified under the new order are the Intelligence Bureau, Narcotics Control Bureau, Enforcement Directorate, the Central Board of Direct Taxes (for Income Tax Department), Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, Central Bureau of Investigation, National Investigation Agency, the Research and Analysis Wing, Directorate of Signal Intelligence (in service areas of J-K, North East and Assam) and Delhi Police commissioner

According to the order, the 10 central probe and snoop agencies are now empowered under the Information Technology (IT) Act for computer interception and analysis

The agencies, according to the order, have been authorised “for the purpose of interception, monitoring and decryption of any information generated, transmitted, received or stored in any computer resource under the said Act (section 69 of the IT Act, 2000)”

In the statement, the Home ministry said adequate safeguards are provided in the IT Act, 2000 and similar provisions and procedures already exist in the Telegraph Act along with “identical safeguards”

The ministry used Rule 4 of the IT (Procedure and Safeguards for Interception, Monitoring and Decryption of Information) Rules 2009 to elaborate its point

 

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