New Delhi: Facing flak from all corners over the reported Ministry of Home Affairs order that allows ten Central agencies to snoop on any computer, the Centre on Friday said the order had been in place since 2009.

Responding to Congress leader Anand Sharma in Rajya Sabha, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said, “On December 20, the same order of authorisation was repeated that was existing since 2009. You are making a mountain where a molehill does not exist.”

The ten agencies given the sweeping powers in the Government Order to intercept, monitor, and decrypt any information generated, transmitted, received or stored in any computer are the Intelligence Bureau, Narcotics Control Bureau, Enforcement Directorate, Central Board of Direct Taxes, Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, CBI, National Investigation Agency, Cabinet Secretariat (R&AW), Directorate of Signal Intelligence (in Jammu and Kashmir, North-East and Assam only) and the Delhi Police Commissioner.

Opposition parties, including the CPI(M), the Samajwadi Party, the Rashtriya Janata Dal and the Trinamool Congress, said they will collectively oppose the Union Home Ministry’s order. They said the BJP government was converting the country into a surveillance state.

“From Modi Sarkar to stalker sarkar, clearly the string of losses has left the BJP government desperate for information,” the Congress said on its official Twitter handle.

“If anybody is going to monitor the computer, including your computer, that is the Orwellian state. George Orwell is around the corner. It is condemnable,” said the party’s leader P Chidambaram.

“It is the ultimate assault on fundamental rights and the right to privacy. It is also in direct conflict with the Supreme Court judgement that right to privacy is a fundamental right. The government has done it by strength we collectively oppose it,” Sharma told reporters with other Opposition leaders by his side.

TMC chief Mamata Banerjee took to Twitter to criticise the order. “I have come to know that Union Home Ministry has issued an order yesterday authorising 10 Central Agencies to carry out interception, monitoring and decryption of any information generated, transmitted, received or stored in any computer resource.
“If it is for National Security, then only for that purpose Central Government already has the machinery. But, why all commoners will be affected? Public Opinion please…”, she tweeted.

RJD’s Manoj Jha said it was a cause of concern for not just parliamentarians, but for every Indian. “We are perpetually living in a surveillance state,” he said.

According to the order, the subscriber or service provider or any person in charge of the computer resource will be bound to extend all facilities and technical assistance to the agencies. Failing to do so will invite seven-year imprisonment and fine.