Opposition questions Govt seeking ‘millions of call records’

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on March 19, 2020

Senior leaders of Congress P Chidambaram wearing a mask and Anand Sharma addressing the media at Parliament, in New Delhi on Thursday   -  Shiv Kumar Pushpakar

‘Data being collected only to study call-drops issue’

Denying the Opposition’s allegations that the Centre’s decision to seek call records from private operators was an infringement of privacy, the Centre said the data was taken to study the issue of call drops. The Opposition said the Centre is trying to convert the country into a surveillance state.

Deputy Leader of the Congress in the Rajya Sabha Anand Sharma, told reporters on Thursday that the government is seeking call data records of millions of telecom users from nine States and NCT of Delhi on a regular basis. “This is a clear violation of the existing guidelines and rules and also breaches the privacy of the concerned citizens,” he said.

He added that in 2013, when the issue of accessing call data records of the Late Arun Jaitley came up in Parliament, the then government had issued guidelines that the call data records can only be sought in specific cases on an order from the Home Secretary and also by the Superintendents of Police.

Sharma demanded that the Centre place all orders of the Home Secretary vis-a-vis the present issue in the House so that the Centre’s intention can be assessed.

Law and Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said call records have been sought with the approval and cooperation of telecom operators to deal with issue of call drops. “I want to assure that there is no surveillance, no phone tapping, no call recording,” he said and added that there is no invasion of privacy. Sharma, however, said what the minister said is in violation of the guideline and the law, when it concerns an Indian citizen’s privacy, as laid down by the Supreme Court also. “We are concerned that by these actions, India is being converted in to a surveillance state and what is happened and what continues to happen, is illegal and in violation of law,” he added.

Published on March 19, 2020

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