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Govt surveillance agencies acting beyond mandate under cloak of national security: Report

A Right To Information (RTI) application filed by Software Freedom Law Centre (SFLC) has revealed that on an average around 7500 – 9000 telephone interception orders are issued by the central government every month. The report on India's Surveillance State (pdf) shows how various parliamentary Acts gives government agencies power to act beyond their mandate: - Yahoo was fined Rs 11 lakh for refusing to provide user information to the Controller of Certifying Authorities (CCA). The CCA was allowed by Section 28 of the IT Act to act as an income tax authority, under Chapter XIII of the Income Tax Act, 1961. The Delhi High Court exempted Yahoo from paying the fine. A RTI request filed by SFLC revealed that the CCA had made 73 requests for information under Section 28 in 2011 alone. - A vernacular blog bodhicommons.com was issued a notice in February 2013 under Section 91 based on a complaint made by Mathrubhumi, a regional media house. The blog was asked to remove an allegedly defamatory post about unfair labour practices at Mathrubhumi, and the Police used the Section 91 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (CrPC) to pry information ‘deemed necessary’ for an investigation. MouthShut.com has also been issued several notices under Section 91 for unfavourable reviews on the site. - Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and online portals are forced to provide user information to government agencies under Rule 3(7) of the Information Technology (Intermediaries Guidelines) Rules, 2011. Founder of Jupiter Capital and BPL Mobile Rajeev Chandrashekhar and MouthShut.com have challenged…

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