Kerala CM flays Centre over order giving ‘snooping’ powers to 10 govt agencies

Criticising the Centre’s decision to authorise 10 agencies to intercept, monitor and decrypt data contained in any computer system, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan Saturday said the order was an “attack” on individual freedom and the Right to Privacy.

Vijayan said it was even more “disturbing” that the media, members of legislatures and even judiciary have not been excluded from the ambit of the order.

“The Union Government is pushing the nation into a state of undeclared emergency,” he said in a Facebook post.

Vijayan said the Home Ministry’s notification was contrary to the spirit of a Supreme Court order which had held Right to Privacy as a fundamental right.

“The Union Government argues that the notification was issued under the IT Act 2000.

“This argument does not have any logic as section 66 A of the IT Act 2000, which penalises for sharing objectionable content online, was struck down by the Supreme Court declaring it unconstitutional,” he claimed.

He alleged that the order was an attempt to deny democratic rights to citizens who disagree with the RSS and the BJP and it also restricts the freedom of press.

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 include the Intelligence Bureau, Narcotics Control Bureau, Enforcement Directorate, the Central Board of Direct Taxes, Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, Central Bureau of Investigation, and National Investigation Agency.

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.

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.

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