Centre allows 10 agencies to spy on your computers, Opposition slams ‘Big Brother syndrome’

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In an order that has come under fire from Opposition parties, the Centre on December 20 issued an order that allows 10 central agencies to decrypt, monitor and intercept “any information generated, transmitted, received or stored in any computer”.

These 10 agencies include the Intelligence Bureau (IB), Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB), Enforcement Directorate (ED), Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT), Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI), Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), National Investigation Agency (NIA), Cabinet Secretariat (R&AW), Directorate of Signal Intelligence (for service areas of Jammu & Kashmir, Northeast and Assam only) and Commissioner of Police, Delhi.

The order, which was issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs, would allow these 10 agencies to peek into any computer.

MHA notification

The Centre has vested these powers in the agencies under Section 69 of the Information and Technology Act, 2000, and Rule 4 of the Information Technology Procedure and Safeguards for Interception, Monitoring and Decryption of Information) Rules, 2009.

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.

According to a report in NDTV, before the order, only data which was in motion could be intercepted. “But now data revived, stored and generated can also be intercepted as powers of seizure have been given,” a senior bureaucrat told the channel.

The officer added that while the IB had no seizure powers earlier, the notification has changed that.

The government has come under attack from Opposition parties after the order, with Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala calling it an attack on privacy. “Big Brother Syndrome is truly embedded in NDA’s DNA,” Surjewala tweeted.


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