Congress president Rahul Gandhi today targeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi over a Home Ministry order that gives sweeping powers to investigating agencies to monitor data on computers, and called him an “insecure dictator” who is trying to turn India into a “police state”.
“Converting India into a police state isn’t going to solve your problems, Modi Ji. It’s only going to prove to over 1 billion Indians, what an insecure dictator you really are,” Gandhi wrote on Twitter.
The new order will empower the Intelligence Bureau, Narcotics Control Bureau, Enforcement Directorate, Central Board of Direct Taxes, Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, CBI, National Investigation Agency, Cabinet Secretariat (Research and Analysis Wing), Directorate of Signal Intelligence (in Jammu and Kashmir, North-East and Assam only) and the Delhi Police Commissioner to analyse private data. It also states that the subscriber, service provider or any person in charge of the computer resource is bound to extend all facilities and technical help to the agencies if they ask for data. If not, they can face seven years in jail and a fine.
According to the notification, 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.
The Congress raised the issue in the Rajya Sabha, accusing the government of making the country a surveillance state. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley responded by saying that the Congress was playing with the country’s security, and maintained that the order was a repeat of an order issued by the UPA government less than a decade ago. “On December 20, the same order of authorization was repeated that was existing since 2009,” Mr Jaitley said.
The surveillance order is not as bad as it is portrayed. Though the privacy of the chats and data would be compromised in return of security. The short-comings could be that of the leakage of messages and vulnerability of information. There are chances that the government agencies might ‘help’ the ruling party but, this would endanger the integrity of these bodies. So, the notification is a nice step forward but how the government implements is itself an uphill task.