A vast majority of Indians are not in favour of security and investigative agencies snooping on their data, shows an online poll conducted by Business Standard.
On Friday, the government triggered a major controversy by authorising 10 central security and investigative agencies to monitor and intercept all computers, a decision that came under severe attack from the Opposition which accused the government of creating a surveillance state.
Business Standard conducted a poll on its website, Twitter and Facebook pages asking, "Do you welcome Modi govt's move to authorise 10 central agencies to intercept, monitor and decrypt information in “any” computer?"
Of 5,085 respondents, 661 opted 'Yes', 4379 opted 'No' and 45 opted 'Can't say'.
Here's the break-up of the responses in percentage terms across platforms:
Strongly defending its action, the government hit back at the Congress saying the order was a mere repetition of a notification issued in 2009 during the UPA rule.
The issue came to the fore with the Union Home Ministry on Thursday issuing an order authorising 10 central security and investigative agencies and the Delhi Police to "intercept, monitor and decrypt any information generated, transmitted, received or stored in any computer".
The 10 agencies given the powers of interception are the Intelligence Bureau, Narcotics Control Bureau, Enforcement Directorate, CBDT, DRI, CBI, NIA, RAW, Directorate of Signal Intelligence (for service areas of Jammu and Kashmir, Northeast and Assam only) and Delhi Police.
The Opposition, both inside and outside Parliament, slammed the government calling the decision an "undeclared Emergency" and an assault on the citizens' fundamental right to privacy and demanded its withdrawal.
Congress leader Anand Sharma said it was an attempt to create a surveillance state, a view shared by many other leaders who also termed it as an Orwellian state.
The issue rocked the Rajya Sabha which was adjourned with the opposition members protesting against the government and indulging in slogan shouting.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley rose to put up a strong defence of the government recalling that Thursday's order was only a repetition of a similar order issued under the rules framed during the UPA regime in 2009 to the Information and Technology Act enacted in 2000.