The investigating agencies of India will soon have powers to intercept and monitor data on computers. The home ministry put out an order. Close to 10 central agencies will be equipped with powers for “interception, monitoring and decryption of any information generated, transmitted, received or stored in any computer”.
Up to now only the home ministry could scan calls and emails of people.
This new order gives powers to :-
- Intelligence Bureau
- Narcotics Control Bureau
- Enforcement Directorate
- Central Board of Direct Taxes
- Directorate of Revenue Intelligence
- National Investigation Agency
- Cabinet Secretariat (Research and Analysis Wing)
- Directorate of Signal Intelligence (in Jammu and Kashmir, North-East and Assam only)
- Delhi Police Commissioner.
This means that calls, emails, data on a computer can be intercepted. The agencies also were granted powers to seize devices.
According to this notification the subscriber or service provider or any person in charge of the computer resource is bound to extend all facilities and technical help to these agencies if they ask for any data. If not they can face seven years of jail term and a fine.
The agencies already had the permission to tap phone conversations provided it took necessary approvals from the Home Secretary.
All the opposition parties, specially the Congress said the government’s move was “unconstitutional, undemocratic and an assault on fundamental rights”.
India has been under undeclared emergency since May 2014, now in its last couple of months Modi govt is crossing all limits by seeking control of even the citizens computers.
Can such curtailment of fundamental rights be tolerated in world's largest democracy?
— Arvind Kejriwal (@ArvindKejriwal) December 21, 2018
The Finance Minister responded to criticism on social media, he said the law already existed and just brought in these agencies under the ambit of it. He reiterated that such means of monitoring would be used only in relation to national security.
Congress Party talks first and thinks later. There is no general snooping order. The power to intercept in the interest of national security and public order already exists in law. This is only an order as to who are the authorised agencies.
— Arun Jaitley (@arunjaitley) December 21, 2018