India cyber surveillance order sparks controversy News
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India cyber surveillance order sparks controversy

An order issued by India’s federal government on Thursday has authorized 10 of the country’s security and intelligence agencies to intercept, monitor and decrypt information from any computer resource.

The move has drawn criticism from opposition political parties amid fears of heightened government surveillance infringing on citizens’ right to privacy. Issued by the interior ministry in an exercise of powers granted under section 69 of the Information Technology Act, the order designates agencies such as the Intelligence Bureau, Narcotics Control Bureau, National Investigation Agency, and the Research and Analysis Wing, as authorized to conduct computer surveillance.

Federal law and justice minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has said that the decision was made “for the nation’s security.” He added, “these agencies have been made accountable so that no one else can do these activities,” indicating that the government believes the order limits surveillance powers to a select group of agencies rather than handing out a carte blanche to all law enforcement agencies.

In 2017 the Supreme Court of India had ruled that the right to privacy is “intrinsic to freedom and liberty” and is inherently protected under the various fundamental freedoms enshrined under Part III of the Indian Constitution. Judge Chandrachud, who authored the judgment, had said that any curtailment or deprivation of the right to privacy “would have to take place under a regime of law” and that the procedure established by law to do so “must be fair, just and reasonable.”