Government order on interception same as that of UPA: Jaitley

New Delhi: Under opposition attack, the government on Friday defended its order on monitoring and intercepting any computer by central investigative and security agencies, saying it was a mere repetition of an order of authorisation issued under rules framed during the UPA regime in 2009.

Intervening in the Rajya Sabha amidst protests and slogan shouting by opposition members on the issue, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley accused the Congress of playing with the security of the country and making “a mountain where even a molehill does not exist.”

“On December 20, the same order of authorisation was repeated that was existing since 2009,” he said referring to Thursday’s order of the Home Ministry that ten central security and intelligence agencies including the IB and RAW and Delhi Police can intercept, monitor and decrypt any information generated, transmitted, received or stored in any computer resource under the Information and Technology Act, 2000.

The minister also responded to remarks of Congress leader Anand Sharma made outside the House in which he had accused the government of making the country a surveillance state.

“And what you are doing, Anand Sharma is making a mountain where even a molehill does not exist.”

Jaitley said the NDA government has used the same rules which were made by the UPA government in 2009 for agencies concerning issues of national security.

To this Congress leader, Ghulam Nabi Azad said that he has a copy of the order of the Ministry of Home Affairs and added: “nowhere in the order national security has been mentioned”.

Jaitley replied that “It (national security) is mentioned in section 69. And you are playing with the security of the country. That is what you have done just now.”

Earlier, Sharma had said the government was creating a surveillance state and its order was “an ultimate assault on the fundamental rights and Right to Privacy.”

The Congress leader said that the order was also in direct conflict with the Supreme Court judgement that “right to privacy is a fundamental right”.

“We collectively oppose it (the government move). This gives unlimited powers to all these agencies to monitor every information,” Sharma said.