Narendra Modi government has issued a controversial order empowering as many as 10 government agencies to snoop on any computer in the country.
As per an order by the Ministry of Home Affairs 10 central agencies, including the Intelligence Bureau and NIA, will now have more sweeping to intercept, monitor and decrypt any computer. With the order signed by Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba, these central agencies can now “intercept, monitor and decrypt any information generated, transmitted, received or stored in any computer”.
The 10 agencies give the sweeping powers in the government 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.
According to the order, the subscriber or service provider or any person in charge of the computer resource will be bound to extend all facilities and technical assistance to the agencies. Failing to do so will invite seven-year imprisonment and 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”.