New Delhi, Sept 01 (KMS): The Indian government routinely grants 7,000-8,000 permissions for interception and monitoring of citizens every month thus endangering the right to privacy of citizens.
This was revealed during the hearing of a Right to Information petition file by a group of NGOs in New Delhi’s High Court.
The petitions stated that citizens’ right to privacy is being “endangered” by surveillance programmes such as the Centralised Monitoring System (CMS), Network Traffic Analysis (Netra) and National Intelligence Grid (Natgrid).
Appearing for the NGOs, advocate Prashant Bhushan urged the court to intervene, pointing out that the government has admitted it places 7,000-8,000 interception requests every month with the committee, and that these are cleared.
While the petitioner sought the HC’s immediate intervention to verify under what due diligence is such permission being granted every month, a bench comprising Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh didn’t go into the specifics but asked Narendra Modi led Indian government to file a detailed response on the law and process being followed in such cases. “Time to file a detailed affidavit is granted to the Union of India, they added.
The petitioners have contended that under the existing legal framework there is an “insufficient oversight mechanism” to authorise and review interception and monitoring orders issued by state agencies. The petition has claimed that Netra is “essentially a massive dragnet surveillance system designed specifically to monitor the nation’s Internet networks, including voice-over-internet traffic passing through software programmes such as ‘Skype’ or ‘Google Talk’, besides write-ups in tweets, status updates, emails, instant messaging transcripts, Internet calls, blogs and forums.”
The court was hearing petitions which alleged “generalised surveillance” of citizens by the authorities and seeks a permanent independent oversight body, judicial or parliamentary, for the issuing and reviewing of lawful interception and monitoring orders/warrants under the enabling provisions of the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885, and the Information Technology Act, 2000.