MHA authorises 10 agencies to intercept, monitor, decrypt computers

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New Delhi (IANS): 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.

"In exercise of the powers conferred by sub-section (1) of Section 69 of the Information Technology Act, 2000 (21 of 2000) read with rule 4 of the Information Technology (Procedure and Safeguards for Interception, Monitoring and Decryption of Information) Rules, 2009, the Competent Authority hereby authorises the following Security and Intelligence Agencies for the purposes of interception, monitoring and decryption of any information generated, transmitted, received or stored in any computer resource under the said Act," an order issued by Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba said.

The 10 agencies are Intelligence Bureau, National Investigation Agency (NIA), Enforcement Directorate (ED), Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), Narcotics Control Board, Central Board of Direct Taxes, Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, Cabinet Secretary (RAW), Directorate of Signal Intelligence (for service areas of Jammu and Kashmir, Northeast and Assam only) and Commissioner of Police, Delhi. 

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'. 

"George Orwell's Big Brother is here and welcome to 1984," he had tweeted late on Thursday. 

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