Kolkata, Dec 21 : West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday lashed out at the Central government alleging Indian citizens were losing their privacy in the name of ‘surveillance’ which was unacceptable and a matter of concern.
“Despite being the citizen of an independent country, we are losing our independence. Why should we accept it?” Banerjee said while ceremonially declaring the 8th Kolkata Christmas Festival open.
The order issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on Thursday authorised 10 Central security and investigating agencies and the Delhi Police to intercept, monitor and decrypt any information generated, transmitted, received or stored in any computer.
“Today there is a notification of the Central government stating blanket surveillance on all computers. As far as I have heard, it stated that it is mandatory to reveal all data. In case of a violation, one will be punished for 7 years. It is a matter of concern,” Banerjee said.
She said it is not possible for a businessman or industrialist to share everything and even a person cannot share a confidential secret stored in his/her personal computer.
“When everything is taken under surveillance, it means privacy and independence is no longer there. Based on their whims they have given the responsibility to ten agencies,” she said.
She pointed out that there was a law existing since 2009, but it mentioned ‘under unavoidable circumstances’. This step can be taken in case of major incidents such as riots, war or other emergency situations.
“Sites could have been blocked as a preventive method during such emergency cases. Earlier, the Home Secretary was authorised to do so during special circumstances,” Banerjee said.
Now the government has given clarification by adding “with individual’s prior permission,” the CM said.
Raising concern about misuse of the order, Banerjee said: “I don’t understand what they want. They must withdraw this notification as it can be used purposefully and vindictively”.