The notification says the subscriber or service provider or any person in charge of the computer resource will have to extend all facilities and technical assistance to the agencies, else they can be fined and even imprisoned for up to seven years.
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.
The ministry has vested the authority on the agencies under Section 69 of the Information Technology Act, 2000 and Rule 4 of the Information Technology Procedure and Safeguards for Interception, Monitoring and Decryption of Information) Rules, 2009.
Who are these agencies?
The 10 agencies include Intelligence Bureau, Narcotics Control Bureau, Enforcement Directorate, Central Board of Direct Taxes, Directorate of Revenue Intelligence;, Central Bureau of Investigation, National Investigation Agency Cabinet Secretariat (RAW), Directorate of Signal Intelligence (For service areas of Jammu & Kashmir, North-East and Assam only), and Commissioner of Police, Delhi.
According to an NDTV report, which quoted a senior bureaucrats, only data in motion could be intercepted earlier. “But now data revived, stored and generated can also be intercepted as powers of seizure have been given,” the bureaucrat told NDTV.
“This means not just calls or emails, but any data found on a computer can be intercepted. The agencies will also have powers to seize the devices,” the report added. As per the report, earlier IB had no power to seize devices but now it can.
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.
Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala tweeted: “This time, attack on privacy”.
“Modi Govt mocks and flouts Fundamental ‘Right to Privacy’ with brazen impunity! Having lost elections, now wants to scan/snoop your computers? ‘Big Brother Syndrome’ is truly embedded in NDA’s DNA!,” tweeted Surjewala.
“The sweeping powers given to agencies to snoop phone calls and computers without any checks and balances is extremely worrisome. This is likely to be misused.
“The Government order giving a blanket approval to electronic surveillance is a direct assault on civil liberties and personal freedom of citizens,” he tweeted,” Ahmed Patel tweeted.
AIMIM and Lok Sabha member, Asaduddin Owaisi, said: “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’.
Source: The Economic Times