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Delhi HC issues notice in plea challenging govt’s mass surveillance systems NATGRID, Netra, CMS

The Delhi High Court on Wednesday issued a notice to the Home Ministry, Law Ministry, IT Ministry, Communications Ministry, and Defence Ministry in response to a petition challenging various government surveillance systems such as the Central Monitoring System (CMS), Network Traffic Analysis (NETRA), and National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID). LiveLaw first reported this. The plea filed by the Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL) and Delhi-based digital rights group Software Freedom Law Centre India (SFLC.In) sought to permanently stop the execution and operation of the three surveillance projects which enable bulk interception, storage, and analysis of telephone and internet communications. It also prayed the court to direct the formation of an independent oversight authority — judicial or parliamentary — to authorise and review communication interception orders issued by the government. MediaNama has seen a copy of the plea. Senior Advocate, Prashant Bhushan, appearing for CPIL, argued that the three surveillance projects seek to put in place a 360 degree surveillance mechanism to spy on all citizens, as per a tweet by SFLC.in. He also alleged that the three systems together will be used for surveillance of all types of communications, including WhatsApp messages, as per LiveLaw. The next hearing on the matter has been scheduled for January 7, 2021. What are these surveillance systems that CPIL and SFLC.In are challenging? The Centralised Monitoring System was set up in 2019 to monitor communications on mobile phones, landlines and internet in the country, in order to "strengthen the security environment in the country,”…

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