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Government Amends IT Rules, Mandates Removal of Surveillance Data Within Six Months

The Indian government has amended IT rules, granting home secretaries the authority to order the deletion of surveillance data after six months. The amendments also designate NIA-related computer resources as critical information infrastructure.

In a significant move, the government has amended the Information Technology (Procedure and Safeguards for Interception, Monitoring and Decryption of Information) rules. The amendment now grants both the Union and State home secretaries the authority to order the deletion of surveillance data, including orders for interception, monitoring, or decryption, along with the actual information of an individual under surveillance after six months.

Key Amendments and Implications

  • Authority for Deletion: Previously, the authority to delete surveillance data rested with the security agency that requested the surveillance. Now, both the state and central home secretaries are authorized to request the deletion of surveillance orders and associated records.
  • Clearer Guidelines: The amendments provide clearer guidelines by designating the Home Ministry, at both central and state levels, as the primary agency responsible for executing orders related to interception, monitoring, and decryption of information.
  • Critical Information Infrastructure: The IT Ministry has also designated computer resources associated with the National Investigation Agency (NIA) as critical information infrastructure. This ensures that individuals attempting to attack or steal information from these resources may face more severe consequences.

Impact on Ongoing Investigations

Officials have stated that ongoing investigations will remain unaffected by these amendments. Typically, surveillance against a person or entity is carried out by the local police operating under the state government. However, in certain instances, surveillance orders may be executed by central agencies operating under the Ministry of Home Affairs at the Centre.

These amendments aim to provide a clearer framework for the management and deletion of surveillance data, ensuring that such data is handled responsibly and in accordance with legal requirements.