Investigating agencies will have more sweeping powers to intercept and monitor information on computer devices after a new home ministry order signed by Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba on Thursday.
Union Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba issued the order enabling the Intelligence Bureau, Narcotics Control Bureau, Enforcement Directorate, Central Board of Direct Taxes, Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, Central Bureau of Investigation, National Investigation Agency, Cabinet Secretariat (R&AW), Directorate of Signal Intelligence (For service areas of Jammu & Kashmir, North-East and Assam only) and Commissioner of Police, Delhi to snoop on any computer device.
The home ministry gave the authorisation under 69 (1) of the Information Technology Act, 2000 which says that centre can direct any agency after it is satisfied that “it is necessary or expedient to do in the interest of the sovereignty or integrity of India, defence of India, security of the State, friendly relations with foreign States or public order or for preventing incitement to the commission of any cognizable offence relating to above or for investigation of any offence”.
Under the section, the subscriber or intermediary or any person who fails to assist the agency will face seven-year imprisonment and will also be liable to fine.
The current notification is to intercept information on computers. Earlier, the government had authorised agencies to tap phone calls after permission from the Home Secretary. The order was last updated in 2011 and enables agencies to get into social media accounts and telephone intercepts.
Left leader Sitaram Yechury reacting to the news, tweeted: “Why is every Indian being treated like a criminal? This order by a government wanting to snoop on every citizen is unconstitutional and in breach of the telephone tapping guidelines, the Privacy Judgment and the Aadhaar judgment.”