The Centre’s decision to monitor computers through at least 10 government agencies has sparked angry reactions from political parties and civil society members as they accused the government of turning India into a surveillance State.
This was after a new order by the union home ministry gave sweeping powers to top government investigating agencies to monitor and intercept contents on computers. The order, signed by Union Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba said that the central agencies will now be equipped with powers of “interception, monitoring and decryption of any information generated, transmitted, received or stored in any computer.”
Reacting to the development, former Home Minister P Chidambaram said, “I’ve not studied the matter, but if anybody is going to monitor computers then it is an Orwellian state(a condition that George Orwell identified as destructive for a free society.”
However, the most notable reaction has come from the BJP’s ally, the Shiv Sena, one of whose MLCs, has dared Prime Minister Narendra Modi to officially declare an emergency in the country. Shiv Sena leader Manisha Kayande Shiv was quoted by news agency ANI, “Instead of issuing such notifications, Modi ji should just officially declare that there is an emergency in the country.”
Meanwhile Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said that the interception by the government agencies will only take place after a formal approval of the home secretary. He said, “Isn’t there threat of terrorism in India? Isn’t it true that ISI and ISIS elements are engaging in radicalisation through the internet? And in this case, the agencies will only intercept data after approval from the home secretary.”
Elsewhere, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said that the Congress was creating an unnecessary controversy over the issue adding that the rules were first frame during the UPA rule in 2009. He said in the parliament amidst loud noise, “The Opposition is making a mountain out of a mole hill where even a mole hill does not exist. When senior members from Opposition raise an issue every word spoken by them has precious value and therefore they must know facts.”