Claiming that people' privacy will beat stake with the UPA government developing the Centralised Monitoring System (CMS), West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday asked the Centre whether the move was to target the Opposition.
Quoting a media report, Banerjee alleged CMS would enable the government and its agencies unfettered access to eavesdrop.
In a Facebook post, she claimed the government through the programme would have access "in real time to any mobile and fixed line phone conversation, SMS, fax, website visit, social media usage, Internet search data and emails, including partially written emails in draft folders of target accounts."
"Experts feel these capabilities could be as lethal and intrusive as the highly controversial PRISM project," she said referring to the US' National Security Agency monitoring data of mobile phone users' case, leaked by whistle-blower Edward Snowden.
CMS, an all-encompassing surveillance mechanism, will enable the government to monitor all phone and Internet communications.
It will provide state bodies like the National Investigation Agency, centralised access to the country's telecom network and facilitate direct monitoring of phone calls, SMSs and Internet use bypassing service providers.
Questioning why the Centre was developing such an "autocratic system" of surveillance and monitoring, she asked, "Will it be targeted to silence the opposition in general, and politicians and others in particular? Who will authorise or decide on selection of targets?
"Will it be proper to move ahead with such a draconian means without consulting the political parties or without discussing the matter in the Parliament? ...Will not this intrusion make our Constitutional right to freedom of speech and expression under Article 19(1)(a) a mockery?"