close

News WrapGet Handpicked Stories from our editors directly to your mailbox

Arun Jaitley, Congress spar over MHA order on monitoring computers

According to news agency ANI, Jaitley in Rajya Sabha accused Sharma of "making a mountain where a molehill does not exist".

Arun Jaitley, Congress spar over MHA order on monitoring computers

Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Friday launched a scathing attack on Congress leader Anand Sharma over his remark on the MHA order allowing ten agencies to monitor any computer.

Jaitley in Rajya Sabha accused Sharma of "making a mountain where a molehill does not exist". He explained that on the same order of authorisation was repeated which was existing since 2009. 

"On December 20, same order of authorisation was repeated that was existing since 2009. You are making a mountain where a molehill does not exist," said Jaitley. "No innocent person needs to worry."

The former Union minister Anand Sharma had said that the BJP government is converting India into a surveillance state through the order.

"It is the ultimate assault on fundamental rights and the right to privacy. It is also in direct conflict with the Supreme Court judgement that right to privacy is a fundamental right. The government has done it by strength we collectively oppose it," Sharma had told reporters. 

He said it gives ultimate powers to state agencies to monitor every information and intercept it through surveillance, which is unacceptable. 

The government has authorised 10 central agencies to intercept, monitor and decrypt all the data contained in any computer system. The order was passed late night Thursday by the 'cyber and information security' division of the Union Home ministry under the authority of Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba.

According to the order, 10 central probe and snoop agencies are now empowered under the Information Technology Act for computer interception and analysis, officials said. 

The 10 agencies are the Intelligence Bureau, Narcotics Control Bureau, Enforcement Directorate, the Central Board of Direct Taxes, Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, Central Bureau of Investigation, National Investigation Agency, the Research and Analysis Wing, Directorate of Signal Intelligence (in service areas of J-K, North East and Assam) and Delhi Police.

The agencies have been authorised "for the purpose of interception, monitoring and decryption of any information generated, transmitted, received or stored in any computer resource under the said Act (section 69 of the IT Act, 2000)", the order states. Section 69 of the IT Act deals with the "power to issue directions for interception or monitoring or decryption of any information through any computer resource". 

According to an earlier order, the Union home secretary is also empowered to authorise or sanction the intelligence and security agencies for undertaking tapping and analysis of phone calls under the provisions of the Indian Telegraph Act.