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The Ministry of Home Affairs on Thursday issued an order authorising 10 “Security and Intelligence Agencies” to intercept, monitor, and decrypt “any information generated, transmitted, received or stored in any computer”.
A computer under the Information Technology Act (IT Act) means “any electronic magnetic, optical or other high-speed data processing device or system which performs logical, arithmetic, and memory functions by manipulations of electronic, magnetic or optical impulses, and includes all input, output, processing, storage, computer software, or communication facilities which are connected or related to the computer in a computer system or computer network”
The order was issued under Section 69(1) of the IT Act to the following agencies: the Intelligence Bureau, Narcotics Control Bureau, Enforcement Directorate, Central Board of Direct Taxes, Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, Central Bureau of Investigation; National Investigation Agency, Cabinet Secretariat (R&AW), Directorate of Signal Intelligence (For service areas of Jammu & Kashmir, North-East and Assam only) and Commissioner of Police, Delhi.
Section 69 of the IT Act was amended in 2008. This provision empowers the Central and State Governments to issue such directions “ in the interest of sovereignity or integrity of India, defence of India, security of State, friendly relations with foreign States, or for preventing incitement to the commission of any cognizable offence relating to above or for investigation of any offence ”. However, the Government is required to record reasons in writing for issuing such directions. The order issued by the Central Government does not record any such reasons.
According to the order, 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 and failing to do will invite seven-year imprisonment and fine.