The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on Friday clarified that no new powers have been conferred to any of the security or law enforcement to intercept, monitor and decrypt information stored in any computer, adding that each case of interception, monitoring, decryption is to be approved by the Union home secretary.
Earlier there were reports that the Narendra Modi government has granted sweeping powers to 10 central agencies to intercept, monitor and decrypt information stored in any computer. According to a new home ministry order signed by Home
The MHA said: “Rule 4 of IT (Procedure and Safeguards for Interception, Monitoring and Decryption of Info) Rules'09 provides that the authority may authorise a government agency to intercept, monitor or decrypt information generated, transmitted or stored in any computer for purpose specified in the Act.”
The Intelligence Bureau, Narcotics Control Bureau, Enforcement Directorate, Central Board of Direct Taxes, Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, CBI, National Investigation Agency, Cabinet Secretariat (R&AW), Directorate of Signal Intelligence (in Jammu and Kashmir, North-East and Assam only) and the Delhi Police Commissioner are the agencies allowed by the home ministry to snoop any computer.
Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said this has been done in the national security interest. “It has been done under the law made by the Manmohan Singh government in 2009. Each case of interception and the decision is to be approved Union home secretary.”
Speaking in Rajya Sabha earlier, Union Finance Arun Jaitley said the same order of authorisation was repeated that was existing since 2009. “You (Congress) are making a mountain where a molehill does not exist.”
The home ministry order said that the above agencies were powered to obtain any information generated, transmitted, received or stored in any computer resource under the Information Technology Act, 2000.
Criticising the move to authorise central agencies to intercept, monitor, decrypt information on all computers, the Opposition Congress said after the recent defeat in Assembly elections, the Narendra Modi government was desperate for the information and thus turned into "stalker government"
"From Modi Sarkar (government) to Stalker Sarkar, clearly the string of losses has left the BJP government desperate for information," the Congress party wrote on its official Twitter account.
Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala lashed out at the government for "flouting" the "Right to Privacy". He said spying on people was a tendency of the Modi government.