A late night order issued by the government has empowered Central agencies to place people under surveillance on grounds of internal security and has stoked fears about the advent of an Orwellian era. The diktat from the central government that came on December 21 allowed 10 government agencies to monitor and decrypt any information stored on any computer. By invoking Section 60 of the Information Technology
Act, 2000, the government has paved the way for the act of “monitoring,” and has enabled agencies to snoop on the exchange of information and material between individuals and banned or militant groups.
The diktat from the central government that came on December 21 caused a furore in the Rajya Sabha, with Congress leader Anand Sharma accusing the Centre of infringing the right to privacy
The organisations which are come within the ambit of the order include the 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 (R&AW), Directorate of Signal Intelligence (for service areas of Jammu and Kashmir, North-East and Assam only) and the Commissioner of Police
, Delhi. All these agencies will be able to track content “generated, received and stored” in any computer belonging to any individual or organisation.
The home ministry said that any case of interception, monitoring, decryption will have to be approved by the Union home secretary and will be reviewed by the Cabinet secretary every two months.
The diktat of the government caused a furore in the Rajya Sabha, with Congress leader Anand Sharma accusing the Centre of infringing the right to privacy. In response, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley told the House that the home ministry had only repeated the order on surveillance, which had been in existence since 2009.