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Context:- Pegasus spyware has made the news when it spied on more than a hundred people. This Pegasus software has surveillance a number of people by the government, mainly to tackle the politics and personal gain. There is more than has been said about international regulation of the unaccountable sale of spyware by shadowy entities such as the NSO Group.
What is the law in India about phone tapping?
- Section 92 of the CrPC (for call records, etc) authorized interception and monitoring of communications.
- Rule 419A of the Telegraph Rules.
- Rules formed under Sections 69 and 69B of the IT Act.
- It is unclear when the Telegraph Act applies and when the IT Act applies.
Why are we concerned about phone tapping? A brief history about misuse of phone tapping:-
- In 2012 the Himachal Pradesh government ordered the police agencies to recover over a lakh phone conversations of over a thousand people.
- Gujrat government was embroiled in a controversy dubbed “Snoopgate”, with phone recordings alleged to be of him speaking to the head of an antiterrorism unit to conduct covert surveillance on a young architect and her family members without any legal basis.
- The United Progressive Alliance government in 2009 swore in an affidavit in the Supreme Court that the CBDT had placed Niira Radia under surveillance due to fears of her being a foreign spy.
- Even private sector is not beyond such as the Essar group, have also been shown to engage in illegal surveillance.
What are the supreme court judgement regarding phone tapping:-
- Kharak Singh case:- Though S.C. Said that there is no right to privacy but it has increased the area of liberty under article 21.
- Puttaswamy Judgement:- Right to privacy is a fundamental right. Everyone has R2P and if violated, a person can move to supreme court.
What are the committees related to privacy:-
- A. P. shah committee report on privacy.
- B.N. Shri krishna committee recommendations.
What is the issue in the phone tapping:-
- Unbridled power with the state.
- Violation of privacy.
- A continuous surveillance by the state, thereby turning into an absolute state.
- Intelligence agencies must be backed by the law.
- There must be a synthesis between privacy and surveillance.
- Accountability of government agencies such as a parliamentary oversight on it.