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Will speak in Parliament, if needed: Rajnath Singh on MHA order on monitoring of any computer resource

The government has been facing flak over the order with opposition parties claiming that the Centre has given snooping powers to the agencies. 

Will speak in Parliament, if needed: Rajnath Singh on MHA order on monitoring of any computer resource

NEW DELHI: Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Sunday refused to answer any questions over the MHA order authorising 10 Central agencies to intercept, monitor, and decrypt any information generated, transmitted, received or stored in any computer. The Home Minister said that he will respond in Parliament if there are questioned which he is asked.

"The Ministry has already issued a clarification. I can't say anything on it right now as Parliament is in session. If I am asked, I will speak on it in the Parliament," he said.

The government has been facing flak over the order with opposition parties claiming that the Centre has given snooping powers to the agencies. In a clarification on Friday, the Home Ministry had said that the notification "does not confer any new powers" and "every individual case will continue to require prior approval" of the Ministry and the state government.

The statement of the Ministry said that "adequate safeguards" were provided in the Information and Technology (IT) Act 2000 and similar provisions and procedures already existed in the Telegraph Act along with identical safeguards. 

"The present notification is analogous to the authorisation issued under the Telegraph Act. The entire process is also subject to a robust review mechanism as in the case of the Telegraph Act.

"Every individual case will continue to require prior approval of Home Ministry or state government. MHA has not delegated its powers to any law enforcement or security agency," said the statement. 

Mentioning some points on the lawful interception or monitoring or decryption of information through computer resource, the Ministry cited Rule 4 of the IT (Procedure and Safeguards for Interception, Monitoring and Decryption of Information) Rules 2009.

It said the rule provides that the competent authority may authorise an agency of the government to intercept, monitor or decrypt information generated, transmitted, received or stored in any computer resource for the purpose specified in sub-section (1) of Section 69 of the 'Act'. 

"The statutory order dated December 20 has been issued in accordance with rules framed in the year 2009 and in vogue since then. The notification has been issued to notify the ISPs (Internet Service Providers), TSPs and intermediaries to codify the existing orders. 

"Each case of interception, monitoring, decryption is to be approved by the competent authority like Union Home Secretary," said the statement. 

The Home Ministry's December 20 order issued by Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba gave the interception powers to the Intelligence Bureau, National Investigation Agency (NIA), Enforcement Directorate (ED), Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), Narcotics Control Board, Central Board of Direct Taxes, Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, Cabinet Secretary (RAW), Directorate of Signal Intelligence (for service areas of Jammu and Kashmir, Northeast and Assam only) and the Commissioner of Police, Delhi.