Is Our Privacy Under Threat?
Privacy, right from the preamble, is assured as a liberty. But the supreme court judgement made it explicit. There was an atmosphere of joy when Right to Privacy was declared a fundamental right. This watershed moment in the constitutional history of India is about to turn into a furore. This predicted furore might be an outcome of upcoming threat to our privacy.
Okay, before I begin with the news and it’s analysis, I suggest you to know it in a broad manner from here
I will explain the whole story in short but still I suggested you read the above article to avoid confusion.
So let’s get back to the point!!
What is the threat?
The Ministry of Home Affairs authorised 10 central agencies to intercept, monitor and decrypt information from any computer recently. This was issued in accordance with Information Technology Act, 2000. But does this Act mention the basis of this surveillance? No, it does not! And here arises the threat. How can one entrust his personal information to these agencies? Isn’t it violative of our Right to Privacy? Let’s analyse the situation together.
Which are these 10 Agencies?
Before we move, it’s obligatory to know these names. Afterall, we’re going to be under their watch!
So here’s the list:
• 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 (RAW)
• Directorate of Signal Intelligence (For service areas of Jammu & Kashmir, North-East and Assam only)
• Commissioner of Police, Delhi.
What empowers them?
Now the question arises that what empowers them. On what basis they can claim our computer resources? This power is reportedly issued in accordance with Information Technology Act, 2000. This, we already know. And also, that this process is in conformity with section 69 of IT Rules, 2009.
The government justifies the provision on the basis of assumption. But the source is still in doubt. The Right to Privacy verdict 2017, logically invalidates this IT rule of surveillance. But still, if it has come with a positive cause, we can’t deny to welcome it.
The So-called Positive cause
As we know that any of the fundamental rights is not absolute, so is the Right to Privacy. We have to compromise our liberty and freedom when it comes to national security and the increasing terror is absolutely a threat to it. Further, its obvious that surveillance has to be taken away from public eye. So practically, the new rule craftly maintains the equation between the privacy and security. But does this much explain the whole story? Absolutely not! So let’s dig deeper.
Elephant in the room?
No doubt, section 69 of IT act provides for surveillance in National interest. But the new notification does not specify the ‘kind of surveillance’ and ‘how and when it will arise’. Neither there is any parliamentary control nor the scope of judiciary advice. Even if an individual is under surveillance, she can’t reach the court. How would you know that someone’s eyes are on you? There is no system of prior warning here!
So it simply reveals the craft of executive. The whole system is highly bureaucratised. There is no scope to know the very nature of surveillance at all. Hence this completely opaque system of assuring national security is a bit tough to digest.
What can be deduced?
So the whole system is based upon the assumption that section 69 of IT Act is legitimate. This provides the source of power to the government agencies. Hence the new notification is constitutional. Isn’t it? But still, why this furore? why is it being called a threat?
Now it’s the time to take out the hidden problem. No doubt, there’s some issue with the new law of surveillance. So let’s find it out.
The hidden issue
The system of surveillance is quite complex. The framework is confusing. The source rule itself is written in a broad sense. It’s absolutely difficult to find out the meaning of surveillance from it. Besides if we read the original statement of section 69 of IT Act, the grounds of surveillance looks like copy pasted reasons. Yes! it’s been apparently lifted from article 19 (2) and pasted without any change.
Surprisingly, we are so dumb that we are unable to deduce the ground from the phrase. Right?? But even the great advocates of law can’t deduce it, if the phrase is so wide. Phrases such as “friendly relations with foreign state” and “sovereignty and integrity of India” are not enough to describe the grounds of surveillance. How one can be supposed to compromise his privacy on such broad faces?
Is there any solution?
Solutions are there for sure. Surveillance is necessary for nation. But there should be a controlling body to monitor the whole system. It is impossible to entrust our personal information in the hands of executive only.
So what needs to be done, is to initiate the whole process with a clarity. First and foremost, the grounds of surveillance should be made Clear. Second, there must be a request sent to the judiciary before bringing an individual under surveillance. This is essential to keep the governance in harmony with legitimacy. Third, the parliament from time to time, should monitor the whole procedure. This will make the process unbiased and probably more trustworthy.
So this was all for today. Hope you enjoyed reading. You can also share your views with us. Feel free to contact us
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