In a recent home ministry order signed by Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba on Thursday, investigating agencies have been granted the permission to intercept and monitor information on any computer device. Ten central agencies have been equipped with powers of “interception, monitoring and decryption of any information generated, transmitted, received or stored in any computer”.
The agencies listed in the ministry order are the Intelligence Bureau, Narcotics Control Bureau, Enforcement Directorate, Central Board of Direct Taxes, Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, CBI, National Investigation Agency, Cabinet Secretariat (R&AW), Directorate of Signal Intelligence (in Jammu and Kashmir, North-East and Assam only) and the Delhi Police Commissioner.
This government order has sparked controversy all over social media.
Left leader Sitaram Yechury tweeted: “Why is every Indian being treated like a criminal? This order by a government wanting to snoop on every citizen is unconstitutional and in breach of the telephone tapping guidelines, the Privacy Judgement and the Aadhaar judgement.”
Why is every Indian being treated like a criminal? This order by a govt wanting to snoop on every citizen is unconstitutional and in breach of the telephone tapping guidelines, the Privacy Judgement and the Aadhaar judgement. https://t.co/vJXs6aycP0
— Sitaram Yechury (@SitaramYechury) December 21, 2018
AIMIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi taking to Twitter also slammed the Modi led BJP government on the decision.
Modi has used a simple Government Order to permit our national agencies to snoop on our communications.
Who knew that this is what they meant when they said ‘ghar ghar Modi’.
George Orwell’s Big Brother is here & welcome to 1984. pic.twitter.com/DrjQkdkBKh
— Asaduddin Owaisi (@asadowaisi) December 20, 2018
It may be noted that these agencies will have the power to intercept any data found on a computer and will also have powers to seize the devices.
According to the notification, the subscriber or service provider or any person in charge of the computer resource is bound to extend all facilities and technical assistance to the agencies. If not, they can face seven years in jail and a fine.
The home ministry has authorised the agencies to intercept information under 69 (1) of the Information Technology Act, 2000 which says the central government can direct any agency after it is satisfied that it is necessary or expedient to do so in the “interest of the sovereignty or integrity of India, defence of India, security of the state, friendly relations with foreign states or public order or for preventing incitement to the commission of any cognisable offence relating to above or for investigation of any offence”.