The Union Ministry of Home Affairs has authorised ten central agencies to monitor computers in the country. With this mandate, agencies will perform interception, monitoring and decryption of any information generated, transmitted, received or stored in any computer, an MHA order dated December 20 said.
Now the subscriber or service provider or any person in charge of the computer resource will be bound to extend all facilities and technical assistance to the agencies. Failing to do so will invite seven-year imprisonment and fine, The Indian Express reported.
The Home Ministry order has enabled the Central Bureau of Investigation, National Investigation Agency, Cabinet Secretariat (R&AW), Intelligence Bureau, Narcotics Control Bureau, Enforcement Directorate, Central Board of Direct Taxes, Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, Directorate of Signal Intelligence (For service areas of Jammu & Kashmir, North-East and Assam only) and Commissioner of Delhi Police, to intercept information stored on any computer device.
The authorisation comes under the information under 69 (1) of the Information Technology Act, 2000 which says that the Union government can direct agencies after it is satisfied to do so in the national interest, sovereignty or integrity of India, defence of India, security of the State, friendly relations with foreign States or public order or for preventing incitement to the commission of any cognisable offence relating to above or for investigation, The Indian Express reported.
Information Technology Act, 2000 was enacted to provide legal recognition for electronic communication, electronic commerce and cyber crimes etc. IT Act has deterrent provisions to deal with cyber threats and cyber attacks.
Earlier, the government had authorised agencies to tap phone calls after permission from the Union Home Secretary. The order was last updated in 2011 and helps agencies to seek details social media accounts and telephone interception.
Meanwhile, the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) has also entered into Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with its overseas counterpart agencies/Computer Emergency Response Teams (CERTs) for information exchange and collaboration for cybersecurity incident response.