The Union Government has authorised ten central intelligence, security and tax agencies to intercept, monitor and decrypt all the data contained in “any” computer system. The order was issued on December 20, 2018, by the ‘cyber and information security’ division of the Ministry of Home Affairs(MHA) under the authority of Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba.
The move has set off a political storm with the opposition accusing the government of trying to create a “surveillance state”. The Union Government has, however, clarified that the rules for intercepting and monitoring computer data were framed in 2009 when the Congress-led UPA was in power and its new order only notified the designated authority, which can carry out such action.
The opposition parties slammed the new order as unconstitutional, undemocratic and an assault on fundamental rights and an attempt by the ruling government to convert India into a “surveillance state” by resorting to “snooping”, inviting a sharp response from the ruling party.
In a strong defence of the government order, the ruling government said it is legal with adequate safeguards and in the interest of national security. The centre also rejected the opposition’s charge of snooping. The MHA also issued a statement saying that the order was issued to prevent “any unauthorised use of powers”
The issue of notification also rocked the Rajya Sabha where Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad alleged that “undeclared Emergency has taken final shape” and “all federal agencies have been let loose”. The opposition parties, including the CPI(M), the Samajwadi Party, the Rashtriya Janata Dal and the Trinamool Congress, said they will collectively oppose the order.