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Supreme Court will scrutinize the government's 'prowling' order

The Home Ministry has given the agencies the power to investigate under 69 (1)of Information Technology Act 2000 which states that the central government can give such orders to agencies if it finds it obligatory to protect the sovereignty and integrity of the country or in case of any danger to the defense and security system of the nation and also to commemorate friendly relations between nations.

Saima Siddiqui

Saima SiddiquiBy Saima Siddiqui

Published on 14 Jan 2019 7:50 AM GMT

Supreme Court will scrutinize the governments prowling order
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New Delhi: The Supreme Court will now examine the government's controversial move to allow Investigating agencies to monitor and obstruct mobile and computer data.

After a batch of petitions filed against the orders, that are regarded as 'prowling' the SC has given the government a time of six months to file its revert.

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On December 1, the previous year, Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba signed the order in which 10 central agencies were endowed with the powers to monitor, encrypt, and intercept any information generated, transmitted or stored in computers.

Previously, only the Home Ministry had the authority to keep a check on the calls and emails of people, but now the Intelligence Bureau (IB), Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB), Central Board of Direct Taxes, Delhi Police Commissioner, National Investigation Agency (NIA), Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), Directorate of Signal Intelligence and Directorate of Revenue Intelligence have landed with powers to scan the data of general public.

Some activists have claimed that this order violates the right to freedom of the citizens and is the same as 'snooping '.

All India Trinamool Congress (TMC) lawmaker Mahua Moitra, lawyer Shreya Singhal and some other activists have filed a petition which states that the Home Ministry's order is imposing a threat on the Fundamental right to privacy and needs to be cancelled so as to retain social justice. The SC will now scrutinize the government's order.

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As told by a bureaucrat, earlier only the data in motion could be obstructed, but now the data stored, generated or restored can also be scanned by these agencies as per the Home Ministry's order.

The Home Ministry has given the agencies the power to investigate under 69 (1)of Information Technology Act 2000 which states that the central government can give such orders to agencies if it finds it obligatory to protect the sovereignty and integrity of the country or in case of any danger to the defense and security system of the nation and also to commemorate friendly relations between nations.

The Ministry has also ordered the service providers to provide such facilities to these agencies when needed and if they refuse to do so, they may be sentenced to an imprisonment of 7 years including a fine.

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The government's order, last revived in 2011, has now extended the powers of these agencies which can now access the social media accounts of users as well, including email scanning and telephone interception.

After facing much opposition, the SC has decided to intervene in the matter.

Saima Siddiqui

Saima Siddiqui

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