Saturday, January 22, 2011

National Intelligence Grid (Natgrid) Of India

Any project that is not properly planned is bound to fail. One such project is national intelligence grid (Natgrid) of India. Even after best of my efforts, I could not find relevant details about Natgrid project of India.

There is no background materials, policy documents, implementation and progress reports, etc. Most astonishing is that there is no website of the project. This is surprising because a project that has tremendous potentials of privacy and other civil liberties violations has been implemented, rather imposed, in the most secret or casual manner.

As I could gather from media reports, Natgrid project is a brain child of home minister Mr. P. Chidambaram. Clearly, he has been too much influenced by American and other developed countries models that are not at all suitable for India.

Natgrid project is headed by Captain Raghu Raman who is equally shy about sharing details, scope, applicability and implementation of this project. I also tried to search home ministry of India’s site but it returned no results in this regard.

Clearly, the entire scheme of Natgrid project is unconstitutional in nature. There are no procedural safeguards against the very possible misuse of this e-surveillance project. According to Praveen Dalal, Advocate at Supreme Court of India and Leading Techno Legal Expert of India, NATGRID Project is both “Essential as well as Controversial”. It is essential as it Safeguards the Security of India. It is Controversial because it does not provide “Adequate Safeguards” to prevent its abuse.

Natgrid is currently awaiting the approval of the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) of India. This is the only safeguard that is available against this endemic e-surveillance project of home ministry. CCS must not clear this project till stringent procedural safeguards are established before the launch of the project.

So what is Natgrid: a boon or bane? Natgrid is an essential requirement for robust and effective intelligence agencies and law enforcement functions in India. The only requirement is to ensure that its abuses can be anticipated, prevented and remedied, says Praveen Dalal. Let us hope CCS would consider all these aspects before giving a go ahead to this project.