A recent report by Software Freedom Law Centre (SFLC) called ‘India’s Surveillance State’ has claimed the Indian government has violated privacy of over one lakh users in an year.
The report was presented at the Internet Governance Forum, currently underway in Istanbul. The study conducted by Software Freedom Law Centre, a non-profit legal services organization was released at recently held Internet Governance Forum in Istanbul.
It was prepared on the basis of RTI replies given by the government, which included 26 companies that expressed interest in setting up Internet monitoring systems for the central government. These included companies offering "far more potent surveillance technologies including phone interception, social media network analysis and data mining and profiling".
"On an average, more than a lakh of telephone interception orders are issued by the central government alone every year. On adding the surveillance orders issued by the State Governments to this, it becomes clear that India routinely surveills her citizens’ communications on a truly staggering scale," the 68-page report said.
The state surveillance of citizens' private communications is authorized by legislative enactments such as the Indian Telegraph Act and the Information Technology Act that allows Indian law enforcement agencies to closely monitor phone calls, messages, e-mails and general Internet activity on a number of grounds. Read: Defence ministry to launch 'Netra' Internet spy system
However, India is yet to put into place a legal framework explicitly for protecting individuals privacy. "Considering the entire array of surveillance systems that directly threaten the right to privacy of Indian citizens, an overarching Privacy Act, which specifically incorporates these principles and sets up an enforcement mechanism to ensure compliance is an immediate necessity," says the report.