Mamata Banerjee terms Centre’s surveillance project ‘autocratic’

Cites The Hindu report, wonders if aim is to silence the Opposition

July 03, 2013 02:33 am | Updated December 04, 2021 11:38 pm IST - KOLKATA:

Drawing attention to a report published in The Hindu , dated June 21, 2013 titled “ >India’s surveillance project may be as lethal as PRISM,” West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee wondered on Tuesday whether the aim of the project could be to “silence the Opposition.”

Why was the United Progressive Alliance government “developing an autocratic system of surveillance and monitoring to secure interception of telephonic conversation in all forms?” she asked in her Facebook post. “Who will authorise or decide on selection of targets?”

“It seems the privacy of our countrymen will soon be at stake at the hands of the UPA-II government,” Ms. Banerjee wrote.

She referred to reports — that included The Hindu ’s uploaded in her post — to say that the Centre “is in the process of developing a system called Centralised Monitoring System [CMS] by C-DoT.”

Borrowing extracts from The Hindu ’s report, Ms. Banerjee pointed out that CMS would “enable the government and its agencies unfettered access in real time to any mobile and fixed line phone conversation, SMS, fax, website visit, social media usage, Internet search and emails, including partially written emails in draft folders of target accounts.”

“Will not this intrusion make our Constitutional right to freedom of speech and expression under Article 19 (1) (a) a mockery?” she asked.

In a federal and democratic system “will it be proper to move ahead with such draconian means without consulting the political parties or without discussing the matter in Parliament?” asked Ms. Banerjee, who has turned into a severe critic of the UPA government ever since her party, the Trinamool Congress, withdrew support to the coalition in September, 2012.

“There are many more questions than answers in mind,” she added.

“Experts feel that these capabilities could be as lethal and intrusive as the highly controversial PRISM project… The plan is to launch it in Kolkata, Karnataka and Kerala. By March, 2014, the aim is to cover about 12 States,” Ms. Banerjee wrote.

“I thought of sharing this information with all of you so that you become aware of the project and generate your questions and opinion on it… Please share your views quickly as time is running out…” her post read.

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