Investigative agencies have legal right to read digital messages of citizens: Home Ministry

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New Delhi, 19 November: In response to a question related to monitoring WhatsApp calls and messages in the Lok Sabha, the Home Ministry said that the Central Government has the power to check such dialogues legally under the Information Technology Act and the Indian Telegraph Act.

The statement given by the Ministry of Home Affairs said that under Article -69 of the Information Technology Act, the Central Government has the power to maintain the integrity of the country, maintain the security and friendly relations of friendly countries, public order and cognizable offenses. It is right to check the communication with any technical device for investigation.

It stated that there is a standard operating procedure for using such provisions. In every case, the permission of the Union Home Secretary and the Home Secretary of the state is necessary.

The central government has authorized 10 agencies in this regard. This includes Information Bureau, Narcotics Control Bureau, Enforcement Directorate, Central Board of Direct Taxes, Directorate of Revenue Information, Central Bureau of Investigation, National Investigation Agency, Cabinet Secretariat (RAW), Director of Signal Intelligence and Delhi Police Commissioner.

Every matter related to this is vetted by a committee headed by the Cabinet Secretary. In the states, this work is done by a committee headed by the Chief Secretary.

The government of India has authorised 10 police and intelligence agencies to “intercept, monitor and decrypt” all information on any computer device in the country. A Gazette of India notification to this effect was issued on December 20, 2018. The Gazette of India is a legal document that carries information about changes to law or new laws and orders.

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