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Making Sense of MHA’s authorisation order to central agencies to intercept “any computer resource”

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The Ministry of Home Affairs order “authorising” ten central agencies under Section 69(1) of Information Technology Act, 2008, read with Rule 4 of IT Rules, 2009, for the “purposes of interception, monitoring and decryption of any information generated, transmitted, received or stored in any computer resource” met with a firestorm of criticism, panic and anger on social media on Friday. Like most others, I also wondered whether this was a blanket surveillance order, a veritable legal cover being accorded to a mass surveillance tool like the American NSA’s PRISM programme that Edward Snowden busted.

But on reading the IT (Procedures and Safeguards for Interception, Monitoring and Decryption of Information) Rules, 2009, my fears were slightly set at ease. Rule 3 of the regulations state that an interception can be carried out only on the orders of the Competent Authority (Union or State Home Secretary) and in unavoidable circumstances by a Joint Secretary-rank officer. It also carves out some exceptions for operational........

© The Times of India