IT Act : 10 Agencies notified to monitor data

Context:

  • The Union government has notified 10 Central Agencies giving them the power to intercept, monitor and decrypt all the data contained in “any” computer system in India. 
  • The Cyber and Information Security Division under the Home ministry issued this notification.

Agencies:

The 10 agencies authorised by the central government are

  • Intelligence Bureau,
  • Narcotics Control Bureau,
  • Directorate of Revenue Intelligence,
  • CBI,
  • National Investigation Agency,
  • Enforcement Directorate,
  • Central Board of Direct Taxes,
  • Research and Analysis Wing,
  • Directorate of Signal Intelligence (in Jammu & Kashmir, the North-East and Assam) and
  • Delhi Police.

Rule 4 of IT Rules 2009:

As per the government, the notification fulfils the requirement under Rule 4 of the IT (Procedure and Safeguards for Interception, Monitoring and Description of Information) Rules, 2009, under which the government has to list the number of agencies permitted for the interception, monitoring and decryption of any data.

Section 69 of IT Act:

  • The Information Technology Act, 2000 is the primary law in India to handle cybercrime and to deal with electronic commerce. 
  • Section 69 of the Information Technology Act, 2000 includes provides for the interception and monitoring along with decryption for cyber-crime investigations.
  • The Information Technology (Procedures and Safeguards for Interception, Monitoring and Decryption of Information) Rules, 2009, has been notified by the government under Section 69.

Why the order has been challenged?

PIL has been filed in SC which states:

  • The notification was illegal, unconstitutional and ultra vires to the law.
  • The notification was being issued to restrict the political opponent, thinker and speaker to control the entire country under dictatorship to win coming general election under an undisclosed emergency as well as slavery which cannot be permitted within the Constitution of India.
  • The notification provides for blanket surveillance which must be tested against the fundamental right to privacy.
  • The notification enables the state to access every communication, computer and mobile and to use it to protect the political interest and object of the present executive political party.
  • The notification tries to create a surveillance state.

The government has defended the decision citing national security and claiming that the order was a mere repetition of the rules passed during the UPA regime in 2009.