New Delhi: The genie of spying and phone tapping has come out of the bottle once again in India. The Guardian newspaper has alleged through a report that many governments of the world are spying on many big personalities including human rights activists, journalists, big lawyers through a special software named Pegasus. In which India is also included. However, the Indian government has rejected the claim of The Guardian newspaper.
Spy-phone tapping and ruckus is not happening for the first time in the country. Even before this, many times such claims have been made by politicians, officials, social figures. Along with this, it has been cited for interference in privacy and ignoring the rules.
In the past too, there has been controversy about it many times in the country and there has been a debate about the rules and its purpose. This is mainly seen as a violation of the right to privacy. On the other hand, it has been said to be necessary from the point of view of national security or public security.
When can phone tapping happen and whose permission is required for this?
The Telegraph Act of 1885, made during the British era, was amended several times. The Central and State Governments have got the right to conduct phone tapping in the Indian Telegraph Amendment Rules, 2007. Under this it has been said that if a law enforcement agency feels that there is a need to tap the phone in public safety or national interest, then in that situation the phone call can be recorded.
Along with this, it has been told that permission has to be taken from the Home Secretary level officer of the Central or State Government for phone tapping or spying. This permission is valid for 60 days only. Along with this, this time limit cannot be extended beyond 180 days in special circumstances.
Supreme Court’s guidelines regarding spying or phone tapping
Many times petitions have been filed in the Supreme Court regarding this. The Supreme Court had also issued some guidelines regarding phone tapping in the case of PUCL vs Union of India in 1997. After this, on the basis of these guidelines, the Central Government formed a committee and similar committees were formed in the states as well.
The Supreme Court has explained it in many decisions, linking it to the right to privacy. Talking about Article 20 of the Constitution, the right to privacy is mentioned in it. The Supreme Court has interpreted this as the right to life and the right to privacy like the right to freedom of expression cannot be infringed. Even if it has to be done, it has to be done by following all the rules while staying within the constitutional framework.
What allegations have the Guardian made?
According to the Guardian newspaper, this spying software has been sold by the Israeli surveillance company NSO to the governments of the countries. According to the revelations of the Guardian newspaper, more than 50 thousand people are being spied through this software.
The consortium’s analysis of the leaked data found at least 10 governments believed to be NSO customers who were entering numbers into a system. It includes data from countries like Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Kazakhstan, Mexico, Morocco, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Hungary, India and the United Arab Emirates. The Guardian claims that this has been revealed after the investigation of 16 media organizations.