The Indian government has authorized 10 central agencies to intercept, monitor, and decrypt data on any computer, sending a shock wave through citizens and privacy watchdogs.
Narendra Modi’s government late Thursday broadened the scope of Section 69 of the nation’s IT Act, 2000 to require a subscriber, service provider, or any person in charge of a computer to “extend all facilities and technical assistance to the agencies.” Failure to comply with the agencies could result in seven years of imprisonment and an unspecified fine.
The agencies that have been authorized with this new power are the Intelligence Bureau, Narcotics Control Bureau, Enforcement Directorate, Central Board of Direct Taxes, Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, Central Bureau of Investigation, National Investigation Agency, Research and Analysis Wing, Directorate of Signal Intelligence (in service areas of J-K, North East, and Assam), and Delhi Police.
He added that some form of “tapping” has already been going on in the country for a number of years and that the new order would help bring structure to that process.
“Even in the case of a particular individual, the interception order shall not be effective unless affirmed by the Home Secretary.”
The Internet Freedom Foundation, a nonprofit organization that protects the online rights of citizens in India, cautioned that the order goes beyond telephone tapping.