Saturday, June 25, 2011

Natgrid Is Still A Nebulous And Unconstitutional Project

A friend of mine has written a very apt article titled Natgrid and NIA became more Obscure and unconstitutional. This piece has been widely appreciated and generously quoted. However, surprisingly, the original source of this article has disappeared from Google’s search results.

However, keeping in mind the fact that Wordpress has censored and deleted our Blogs and Google is censoring the search and news results, this is no big surprise. Wordpress has crossed all the limits by even disabling the accounts of all our contributors at the Techno Legal News and Views platform as well. If you have observed, you must also be aware of the strange behaviour of Blogspot during the last few months.

However, despite the Internet censorship, website blocking and e-surveillance exercises of Wordpress, Blogspot and Indian government, the constitution of India empowers me to freely express my views in India. Now even the United Nations has declared that access to internet is a human right.

So what is this national intelligence grid (Natgrid) project of India? Natgrid is a project pertaining to intelligence gathering and its analysis. While there is nothing wrong with having a project like Natgrid but the way it has been implemented makes it illegal and unconstitutional.

Firstly, Natgrid is not at all trying to reconcile the conflicting interests of civil liberties and national security. On the contrary it is expressly violating the civil liberties of Indians in cyberspace. Till now Indian government has not specified the procedural safeguards that can prevent the misuse of Natgrid.

Secondly, there is no official website of Natgrid where the objects, purpose, scope, limitations, etc of Natgrid have been mentioned. In the absence of adequate information about Natgrid, its veracity and genuineness is in great doubts.

Thirdly, neither the Natgrid project nor the intelligence agencies and other agencies who are going to use it are subject to any “parliamentary oversight”. When the Natgrid project and agencies are themselves governed by no legal framework and they are not accountable to the parliament and judiciary, this make the very project unconstitutional and unwarrantable.

Fourthly, even the cabinet committee on security (CCS) is aware of the “constitutional limitations” and that is the reason why it gave Natgrid a “conditional approval”. Statutory enactments have to be enacted before Natgrid can proceed with the crucial stages of its implementation.

Despite the media campaign to give a positive image to Natgrid project, it is and would always remain an e-surveillance project that has no constitutional sanction and is unconstitutional in nature.