The police can now read your e-mails without prior permission from the home department.
The Parliament recently cleared an amendment to the Information Technology (IT) Act, allowing the police to intercept or decrypt online information without seeking the home department’s nod.
Rising instances of cyber crime have prompted the move aimed at cutting red tape.
The amendment empowers the inspector general of police to permit interception or decoding information in cyber space in an emergency.
This will help speedy detection of cyber crimes like phishing or sending offensive messages and in tracking terrorists who operate using the Internet.
Advocate I.P. Bagaria said the amendment was necessary. “Every citizen has a right to privacy. However, this cannot be at the cost of the state or country,” he said.
The secretary in-charge of the state home department should be informed about the interception within three days of tracking. The secretary – the final sanctioning authority – has to grant permission within seven days.
Once the sanction has been obtained, it has to be placed before the Review Committee within two months.
Senior advocate Amit Desai said this period should be reduced. “Otherwise there are chances of misuse of these powers.”
The police had to earlier take permission from the additional chief secretary, home or, in an emergency, the joint secretary.
“Liberalisation of interception is required when the world is dealing with terrorism,” said senior police officer-turned-lawyer Y.P. Singh.
The amendment has increased the minimum punishment under the Act to three years and made the offence non-bailable.
Cyber expert Vijay Mukhi said there should be a mechanism to check misuse.