Privacy law only for private entities

India’s new privacy law will not shield citizens from the intrusive eyes of security agencies but private entities including detectives could be sent to jail for intruding into your privacy.

The government has accepted the home ministry’s view that the new privacy law should not stand in the way of security agencies such as the Intelligence Bureau collecting information.

A government source told HT that the department of personnel & training (DoPT) — which is drafting the privacy law — was going by the home ministry’s view of “lawful interception regime, as it exists, should be taken as a permissible exception to the privacy law”.

Home ministry sources said the intelligence establishment had conveyed its requirements to the DoPT at a recent meeting, which have been accepted. The privacy law has been stuck for nearly a year on this issue.

There had been demands for tightening the existing rules governing lawful interception of conversations in recent months, particularly in the context of the government getting ready to roll out the central monitoring system to expand the security establishment’s capacity to tap phone calls and internet usage.

Government sources, however, said the law would come down heavily on entities carrying out unauthorised interception.

“A penalty of five years jail has been stipulated in the proposed law for unauthorised interception,” the source said, adding that the law was the first time that a penalty for unauthorised interception was listed.


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