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Soon,11 Central agencies can monitor your bank account,travel and tax details

Maybe this is the price you are required to pay to keep yourself and the country secure from terrorists.....

Written by Amitabh Sinha | New Delhi |
September 27, 2009 3:42:15 am

Maybe this is the price you are required to pay to keep yourself and the country secure from terrorists. If all goes according to plan,then starting next month,your bank and insurance accounts,your travel details and even telephone and Internet usage will all be available to a bunch of high-level officials in the top-most government security enforcement agencies.

The National Intelligence Grid,which the government intends to establish by the end of this month,will ensure that designated officers in 11 Central security and intelligence agencies—such as the Intelligence Bureau,National Investigating Agency and the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence—would have complete access to nearly 20 databases held by public authorities,including nationalised banks and insurance companies,railways and airlines,immigration and income tax department.

The idea is to let the law enforcement agencies get quicker and comprehensive access to all information related to suspected criminals and terrorists at one place over a highly secure network. Investigating officers often lose crucial time trying to get information from other departments,thereby benefiting the criminals.

The NATGRID,it is hoped,would not just speed up investigation of cases but also help in pre-empting crimes by acting on suspicious activities of people under watch. For purposes of easy use,each of the 20-odd databases would remain separate entities and would not be merged into a single master database.

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Eventually,the intention is to bring relevant databases held even in private hands,like banks or transport companies,under the ambit of NATGRID. The main data centre for NATGRID would be located in the Multi-Agency Centre which has been reactivated after the Mumbai attacks last year.

Sources in the government played down concerns on privacy,saying security agencies could even otherwise access these databases for investigation purposes. “All that is sought to be done is ensure that relevant information is accessed and acted upon timely in the interests of national security,” a source said.

Additionally,they pointed out that similar measures have been taken in other countries as well,especially in the United States following 9/11.

“It would not have been done if it wasn’t considered to be completely necessary. A system of checks and balances would obviously be put in place so that information is not misused in any way,” the source said.

The complete NATGRID network would be delivered in three phases over the next two years. The first phase is ready to be initiated and is awaiting the final approval of Home Minister P Chidambaram,government sources said.

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First published on: 27-09-2009 at 03:42:15 am

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