‘Scared’ BJP allows agencies to spy on computers ahead of 2019 elections: Pradyut Bordoloi, Congress Leader
GUWAHATI: The union home secretary issued an order on 20th December last that states that 10 agencies have been conferred with powers of interception, monitoring and decryption of any information generated, transmitted, received or stored in any computer.
Earlier, only the home ministry could scan calls and emails of people. The new order gives the power to the Intelligence Bureau, Narcotics Control Bureau, Enforcement Directorate, Central Board of Direct Taxes, Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, CBI, National Investigation Agency, Cabinet Secretariat (Research and Analysis Wing), Directorate of Signal Intelligence (in Jammu and Kashmir, northeast and Assam only) and the Delhi Police Commissioner. If the service provider or any person in charge of the computer resource refuses to reveal information to these agencies, they can face seven years in jail and a fine.
The union government’s decision of surveillance was slammed by the opposition and the Congress claimed that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is “scared,” and is, therefore, trying out various strategies before the 2019 elections.
Assam Pradesh Congress Committee (APCC) leader Pradyut Bordoloi, talking to G Plus said, “Even before Narendra Modi became the Prime Minister of India, he and Amit Shah used to snoop on individuals. They are past masters of the game. Now, as they are in power, they are trying to infringe on the liberty and the individual rights of the people of India.” He also said that they have been snooping on the opposition leaders and people who they think are opposed to their (BJP’s) actions and thought process. Now, as the Lok Sabha elections are around the corner, the BJP is giving it a legal shape so that everyone could be legally spied upon, expressed Bordoloi.
Meanwhile, the ministry of home affairs (MHA), on Friday, clarified that its stand on its recent order authorising 10 agencies to snoop on any computer in the country in the interest of national security is based on the UPA-era IT Act and the IT Rules 2009 that allows for surveillance by a competent authority and said all cases of surveillance will be placed before a review committee headed by the cabinet secretary.
The MHA said that the 20th December order doesn't confer any new powers to any of the security or law enforcement agencies, and that the notification was issued to notify the internet service providers (ISPs), telecom service providers (TSPs) and intermediaries, etc, to codify the existing orders. Contrary to the accusations, the MHA said that the order, in fact, ensures that due law is followed during any interception, monitoring or decryption of information through any computer resource.
The government might claim that it is for national security, but the question remains as to why such a step has been taken just ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
- 2019 elections
- Directorate of Revenue Intelligence
- National Investigation Agency