10 government agencies can tap phones, Lok Sabha told
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and the Intelligence Bureau (IB) are among 10 central agencies that can intercept telephone communications, provided they have the Union home secretary’s prior permission to do so, the government informed the Lok Sabha on Tuesday.
“Section 69 of the Information Technology Act, 2000 empowers the central government or a state government to intercept, monitor or decrypt, information generated, transmitted, received or stored in any computer resource in the interest of the sovereignty or integrity of India, the security of the state, friendly relations with foreign states or public order,” minister of state for home G Kishan Reddy said.
He was responding to questions related to the interception of WhatsApp calls and messages.
The ministry of home affairs also stated that any interception or monitoring or decryption of any information from any computer resource can be done only by authorised agencies as per due process of law, and subject to approved safeguards and standard operating procedures.
Importantly, Reddy also clarified that the government didn’t give “blanket permission to any agency for the interception or monitoring or decryption and permission from competent authority is required, as per the due process of law and rules, in each case.”
“Each case is also reviewed by a committee chaired by the Cabinet Secretary in case of Central Government and Chief Secretary of the State concerned in case of a State Government,” he said in a written reply to a question.
The competent authority in the central government has authorised 10 agencies for the purpose are: Intelligence Bureau, Central Bureau of Investigation, Enforcement Directorate, Narcotics Control Bureau, Central Board of Direct Taxes, Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, National Investigation Agency, R&AW, Directorate of Signal Intelligence and Delhi Police Commissioner.