From politicians to common citizens, Twitter users express fury over MHA snooping notification; label it Orwellian and unconstitutional

Not just calls or emails, but any data can be intercepted and devices can be seized by the agencies.


From politicians to common citizens, reactions poured in over the government's move to authorise as many as 10 central agencies to access any information on any computer. While some voices also supported the move, the government faced heavy backlash from the Opposition, which condemned the 'Orwellian move.'

The authorisation has been given under Section 69 of the Information Technology Act, 2000. It allows the government to direct any agency in the interest of the sovereignty, defence of India and security of the state among other reasons.

According to the order, the person who the computer belongs to will have to provide access and technical assistance to the aforementioned agencies. If they fail, there will be a punishment of up to seven years.

From politicians to common citizens, Twitter users express fury over MHA snooping notification; label it Orwellian and unconstitutional

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The move has largely received backlash for breach for digital privacy from the likes of Rahul Gandhi, Asaduddin Owaisi, Mamata Banerjee and others.

Rahul took to Twitter to criticise the move and termed Prime Minister Narendra Modi an "insecure dictator".

 

Amit Shah took umbrage to this tweet and told Rahul that the only two "insecure dictators" in India were from his party. Shah, however, did not name anyone.

While Shah's first reference is obviously to former prime minister Indira Gandhi, his second reference, BJP sources said, was to the Congress president Rahul's father Rajiv Gandhi who, they claimed, wanted a law for unrestricted access to read letters.

MeawnhiTelangana MP Asaduddin Owaisi criticised it and mocked BJP’s slogan "Ghar Ghar Modi." "Modi has used a simple Government Order to permit our national agencies to snoop on our communications. Who knew that this is what they meant when they said ‘ghar ghar Modi," he said in a tweet comparing the order to George Orwell's 1984.

The former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir Omar Abdullah commented saying that the government was imitating North Korea.

Sitaram Yechury of the Communist Party of India called the move unconstitutional.

 

Mamata Banerjee took to twitter asking why should "commoners" be affected on the face of "National Security."

The fact that not just calls or emails, but any data on any computer can be intercepted and devices can be seized is not something that people are appreciating.

Congress leader Ahmed Patel told ANI that this notification gives sweeping powers to agencies to snoop phone calls and computers without any checks and balances in place. "This is extremely worrisome. This is likely to be misused," said Patel.

Update: MHA has issued a clarification saying that due process of law and approval of competent authority will be required for the 10 central agencies to carry out interception, monitoring and decryption of any information.

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