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No blanket nod given for surveillance

Topics Covered: Challenges to internal security through communication networks, role of media and social networking sites in internal security challenges, basics of cyber security; money-laundering and its prevention.

No blanket nod given for surveillance:


Context:

The Central government has told the Delhi High Court that no blanket permission has been granted to any agency for interception or monitoring or decryption of any messages or information under the surveillance programmes like the Centralised Monitoring System (CMS), Network Traffic Analysis (NETRA) and National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID).

Background:

The affidavit came in response to a petition seeking to constitute a permanent, independent oversight body for reviewing lawful interception and monitoring orders or warrants under the provisions of the Indian Telegraph Act and the Information Technology Act.

Need for surveillance:

The government defended the need for the CMS, NETRA and NATGRID surveillance systems saying that ”grave threats to the country from terrorism, radicalisation, cybercrime, drug cartels, etc, cannot be understated or ignored” and it was imperative, therefore, to have a robust mechanism ”for speedy collection of actionable intelligence.”

What’s the issue?

The Delhi High Court had sought response of the Centre on a PIL claiming that citizens’ right to privacy was being “endangered” by the execution and operation of surveillance systems.

  • The plea by NGO Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL) has claimed that these surveillance systems allow central and state law enforcement agencies to intercept and monitor all telecommunications in bulk which is an infringement of the fundamental right to privacy of individuals.

What were the demands by the petitioner?

The petitioner sought constitution of a permanent independent oversight body, judicial or parliamentary, for issuing and reviewing lawful interception and monitoring orders/warrants under the enabling provisions of the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885 and the Information Technology Act, 2000.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. About NATGRID.
  2. What is NETRA?
  3. Key Provisions of the IT act, 2000.
  4. Overview of the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885.

Mains Link:

Surveillance by the state is an infringement of the fundamental right to privacy of individuals. Discuss.

Sources: the Hindu.