‘Snoop­ing or­der only to plug gaps’

Govt Likely To Tell SC That IT-Rules Tweak Is No Pol­icy Change

The Times of India (New Delhi edition) - - | POLITICS POLICY - [email protected] times­group.com

New Delhi: The home min­istry, in its re­ply to the Supreme Court on au­tho­ris­ing 10 agen­cies to tap into a com­puter re­source, is likely to re­it­er­ate that the rel­e­vant or­der did not mark any change in pol­icy but only plugged le­gal loop­holes in In­for­ma­tion Tech­nol­ogy Rules, 2009 that re­quired the gov­ern­ment to no­tify au­tho­rised agen­cies for in­ter­cep­tion, and stan­dard op­er­at­ing pro­ce­dures of 2011 that man­dated telecom and in­ter­net ser­vice providers (TSPs/ISPs) to share data if ap­proached by such au­tho­rised agen­cies.

The au­tho­rised agen­cies for in­ter­cep­tion un­der the IT law were never no­ti­fied, a min­istry of­fi­cial said. As a re­sult, any agency or en­tity could ap­proach TSPs/ISPs for in­ter­cepted data in an emer­gent sit­u­a­tion, al­low­ing scope for mis­use since only post-facto ap­proval of the home sec­re­tary had to be taken.

By no­ti­fy­ing the 10 au­tho­rised agen­cies on De­cem­ber 20 last year, the gov­ern­ment has ended the am­bi­gu­ity and TSPs/ISPs now can­not share data with any agency other than these 10. This was nec­es­sary given the emer­gence of many ser­vice providers and the ex­po­nen­tial rise in num­ber of in­ter­net us- ers in In­dia, said an of­fi­cer.

Be­sides un­der­lin­ing the two-stage screen­ing/re­view of in­ter­cep­tion cases at the level of home sec­re­tary and then cab­i­net sec­re­tary, home min­istry of­fi­cials claimed the num­ber of in­ter­cep­tion re­quests had fallen in re­cent years in ab­so­lute terms and more so in pro­por­tion to the grow­ing num­ber of in­ter­net users in the coun­try.

The min­istry may also cite be­fore the SC the le­gal sys­tems for in­ter­cep­tion preva­lent across the world.

The US has en­acted Cloud Act, 2018, to al­low sev­eral law en­force­ment agen­cies to com­pel US-based tech­nol­ogy com­pa­nies to pro­vide re­quested data stored on servers re­gard­less of whether the data is stored in the US or on for­eign soil.

Ac­cord­ing to a 2016 study by the Law Li­brary of Congress’s Global Le­gal Re­search Cen­tre on gov­ern­ment ac­cess to en­crypted com­mu­ni­ca­tions, na­tional in­tel­li­gence and se­cu­rity ser­vices in France may ob­tain au­tho­ri­sa­tion to in­ter­cept and read pri­vate com­mu­ni­ca­tions for pur­poses in­clud­ing na­tional se­cu­rity, pro­tect­ing the “safety of es­sen­tial el­e­ments of France’s eco­nomic and sci­en­tific po­ten­tial” and pre­vent­ing acts of ter­ror­ism.

Full re­port on www.toi.in

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