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No 'blanket powers' to 10 agencies to intercept, says Home Ministry

No blanket powers to 10 agencies to intercept, says Home Ministry

New Delhi: The central government has not given "blanket power" to any agency to intercept information from any computer, and they have to strictly adhere to the existing rules and stick to the book while carrying out such action, a senior Home Ministry official said.

There is no new law, no new rules, no new procedure, no new agency, no blanket powers, no blanket authorisation and it is the same law, same rule, same procedure and the same agencies, he said.

"There is no change even in a comma or a full stop in the existing rules and regulations," the official said.

The December 20 Home Ministry notification, listing the ten agencies, had set off a political storm with the opposition accusing the government of trying to create a "surveillance state".

The official clarified that the ten agencies mentioned in the notification were already empowered to intercept electronic communications since 2011. Further, while listing these agencies on December 20 this year, the home ministry had reiterated the Standard Operating Procedures of 2011, which mandates that every such interception requires prior approval of the competent authority - the Union Home Secretary or the State Home Secretary.

The central government has been maintaining that the rules for intercepting and monitoring computer data were framed in 2009 when the Congress-led UPA was in power.

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