NA Passes Fair Trial Bill to Allow Agencies to Monitor Calls, Emails and More

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187969National Assembly yesterday passed ‘The Investigation for Fair Trial Bill, 2012’, that will empower six law-enforcement and intelligence agencies to tape telephone and mobile calls, monitor emails, and to collect video footage for surveillance of individuals to primitively tackle any incident of crime.

According to the law the role of investigation in terrorism activities would be given to Director-General of Inter Services Intelligence, three Services Intelligence Agencies, Intelligence Bureau and Police.

According to the Bill, the warrant of surveillance or interception to be issued by the judge may authorise and allow the lawful doing of any or all the following acts:

  • Interception and recording of telephonic communication of the suspect with any person and of that person with any other person.
  • Video recording of any person, persons, premises, even, situation etc
  • Interception or recording or obtaining of any electronic transaction, including but not limited to e-mail, SMS etc
  • Interception and taking over of any equipment used in the communication in respect of which the warrant is issued, including but not limited to telephone, cell phone, mobile SIMs, electronic database demonstrating linking of electronic communication with the database belonging to the person in respect of whom the warrant has been issued.
  • Collection of evidence through any modern devices in addition to the ones mentioned above
  • Use of human intelligence
  • Covert surveillance and property interference
  • Access to any information or data in any form related to a transaction, communication or its content.

Only a single warrant by a judge may land you into the scope of monitoring of all above mentioned surveillance for all your private and public doings.

Fair Trial Bill, that supposedly violates basic human rights, is justified by the government by saying that existing laws neither comprehensively provide nor specifically regulate use of advanced and modern investigative techniques such as covert surveillance and human intelligence, wire-tapping and communication interception that are used extensively in other countries, including the US, the UK and India.

Opposition parties showed their reservations on the law and feared that it could be mis-used. However, the opposition agreed to pass the law on a condition that it will not be mis-used by agencies.