Not given blanket powers to any agency to snoop on computers, clarifies MHA

MHA

Amidst political debate sparked over government’s decision to allow 10 agencies to intercept information from any computer, the ministry of home affairs (MHA) has clarified that no agency has been given blanket powers to do such things without prior approval.

According to MHA’s senior official, to put any system on surveillance, the authorities have to abide by the existing rules and stick to the book while carrying out such action.

There is no new law, no new rules, no new procedure, no new agency, no blanket powers, no blanket authorisation and it is the same law, same rule, same procedure and the same agencies, said the official.

The central government has been maintaining that the rules and 10 agencies mentioned in the notification were framed in UPA-led government and it is already in action since 2011.

The new order only highlighted to notified the designated agencies which can carry out such action explained by the official to PTI.

MHA also used Rule 4 of the IT (Procedure and Safeguards for Interception, Monitoring, and Decryption of Information) Rules 2009 to elaborate its point.

On December 20, the ministry order had authorised 10 agencies such as Enforcement Directorate (ED), Intelligence Bureau (IB), Narcotics Control Bureau, including others to carry out such operation.

While the central govt’s decision received criticism from political parties and legal experts, cabinet minister Arun Jaitley defended the move and said that there are safeguards included in the rules, as prescribed by the Supreme Court.

The notification had set off a political storm in the country, with the opposition accusing the Centre of attempting to make India a surveillance state.

Soon after the government’s notification, advocate ML Sharma had filed a PIL in the apex court against the Home Ministry order.

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