SC asks govt to respond on recent orders that allow personal computer surveillance

Recent home ministry orders recently allowed 10 agencies to monitor personal computers of citizens.

The Supreme Court on Monday asked the government to respond in six weeks on pleas challenging a recent home ministry order that allowed some agencies to monitor personal computers of citizens.

Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi issued the notice to the government against the controversial order. However, the Supreme Court has not stayed the order.

Last month, the home ministry had issued an order authorising 10 federal government agencies to intercept and monitor information from any computer, a move opposition parties said would risk creating a “surveillance state”.

SC asks govt to respond on recent orders that allow personal computer surveillance

Representational Image.

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. And notably so, as per the order, not just calls or emails, but any data on any computer can be intercepted and devices can be seized.

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.

The agencies that have been granted the permission are — The Intelligence Bureau, Narcotics Control Bureau, National Investigation Agency, Enforcement Directorate, Central Board of Direct Taxes, Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, Central Bureau of Investigation. Cabinet Secretariat (R&AW), Directorate of Signal Intelligence (For service areas of Jammu & Kashmir, North-East and Assam only) and Commissioner of Police, Delhi.

With inputs from Reuters

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