[Answered]Discuss the need and significance of NATGRID project? What are various concerns related to NATGRID?

Demand of the question

Introduction. What is NATGRID?

Body. Discuss the need, significance and concerns related to NATGRID.

Conclusion. Way forward.

National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID) is an ambitious counter-terrorism programme, which will utilise technologies like Big Data and analytics to study and analyse the huge amounts of data from various intelligence and enforcement agencies to help track suspected terrorists and prevent terrorist attacks. It will connect, in different phases, data providing organisations and users besides developing a legal structure through which information can be accessed by the law enforcement agencies.

Why do we need NATGRID?

  1. The danger from not having a sophisticated tool like the NATGRID is that it forces the police to rely on harsh and coercive means to extract information in a crude and degrading fashion. After every terrorist incident, it goes about rounding up suspects—many of who are innocent. If, instead, a pattern search and recognition system were in place, these violations of human rights would be much fewer.
  2. NATGRID would also help the police and the Intelligence Bureau keep a tab on persons with suspicious backgrounds. The police would have access to all his data and any movement by this person would also be tracked with the help of this data base.

Significance of NATGRID:

  1. NATGRID is a post Mumbai 26/11 attack measure. It aims to mitigate a vital deficiency- lack of real time information, which was considered to be one of the major hurdles in detecting terror activities.
  2. NATGRID will become a secure centralised database to stream sensitive information from 21 sets of data sources such as banks, credit cards, visa, immigration and train and air travel details, as well as from various intelligence agencies.
  3. It will utilise technologies like Big Data and analytics to study and analyse the huge amounts of data from various intelligence and enforcement agencies to help track suspected terrorists and prevent terrorist attacks.
  4. It will connect, in different phases, data providing organisations and users besides developing a legal structure through which information can be accessed by the law enforcement agencies.
  5. The database would be accessible to authorised persons from 11 agencies on a case-to-case basis, and only for professional investigations into suspected cases of terrorism.
  6. Unlike the NCTC and the NIA which are central organisations, the NATGRID is essentially a tool that enables security agencies to locate and obtain relevant information on terror suspects from pooled data of various organisations and services in the country. It will help identify, capture and prosecute terrorists and help preempt terrorist plots.

Concerns related to NATGRID:

  1. NATGRID is facing opposition on charges of possible violations of privacy and leakage of confidential personal information.
  2. Its efficacy in preventing terror has also been questioned given that no state agency or police force has access to its database thus reducing chances of immediate, effective action.
  3. According to few experts, digital databases such as NATGRID can be misused. Over the last two decades, the very digital tools that terrorists use have also become great weapons to fight the ideologies of violence.
  4. The ambitious National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID) project wants to link social media accounts to the huge database of records related to immigration entry and exit, banking and telephone details among others.
  5. The Snowden files have already revealed the widespread misuse in recent years of surveillance capabilities to compromise individual privacy and even violate national sovereignty.

A robust and secure NATGRID is of the vital interest to the nation. Issues related to privacy and access can be addressed by strict regulatory and authentication norms or by introducing a privacy law regarding that. But considering the present situation it is important that the data with various agencies must be integrated to check terror, corruption, black money and other crimes.

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