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NATGRID: Government’s controversial surveillance project in final stages

Only ten agencies will have access to the intelligence programme revived by the Ministry of Home Affairs.

The National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID) is expected to be launched soon, according to a PTI report on September 12. Citing sources, the report said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to launch NATGRID and the final “synchronisation and testing” of the Rs 3,400 crore surveillance database was underway. Intended to tackle terrorism and other national security issues, NATGRID collates data from multiple financial, travel, telecommunications, and other databases under multiple central government agencies. Since it is exempt from public scrutiny for being a part of defence and intelligence infrastructure, the database raises concerns about privacy violations in the absence of nearly any accountability measures on such surveillance. Read: How do we rein in State Surveillance? Here’s what experts had to say What is the NATGRID? What will be collated: The NATGRID will collate information from 21 providing organisations like the Income Tax department, National Crime Records Bureau, Civil Aviation Ministry, and more, according to the government's first phase plan. The types of information will include banking and financial transactions, databases of FIRs and stolen vehicles, air and rail travel records, immigration, property records, driving license, and telecommunications data. In 2019, it was reported that the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) was also planning to link data related to social media users to the database. Who will have access: The MHA's plan says that 10 agencies will be granted access to NATGRID at first, but this will be expanded to over 1000 organisations, in a staggered manner, over the years. The…

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I cover health technology for MediaNama but, really, love all things tech policy. Always willing to chat with a reader! Reach me at anushka@medianama.com

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