NATGRID to have access to database that links around 14,000 police stations

  • The National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID) has signed a memorandum of understanding with the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) to access the centralised online database on FIRs and stolen vehicles.
  • It will give NATGRID access to the Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and Systems (CCTNS) database, a platform that links around 14,000 police stations.
  • All-State police are mandated to file First Information Reports (FIR) in the CCTNS.
  • The MoU enables the NATGRID to get information about details of a suspect as mentioned in the FIR such as his/her father’s name, telephone number and other details

NATGRID

How NATGRID envisages to leverage the MOU?

  • NATGRID will act as a link between intelligence and investigation agencies.
  • Currently, the security agencies directly contact an airline or a telephone company if they are on a suspect’s trail. The data is shared through international servers such as Google etc. The NATGRID will ensure that such information is shared through a secure platform, safeguarding it from leaks.
  • There is no human interface and therefore chances of the system being misused are almost impossible.

Issues:

  • Some say that the MoU infringes on the federal system of the Constitution since the NCRB under the Union government is only a repository and the data pertaining to FIRs of a particular police station are a State subject. However, it does not violate any legal provisions as FIRs are shared with all the police stations.
  • The NATGRID was proposed after the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks but generated controversy primarily over concerns about privacy.
  • Earlier the Civil Aviation Ministry and airline companies had raised concerns in providing information to yet another agency — NATGRID as they already provide information to the Bureau of Immigration and the Customs authorities.
  • Once NATGRID is operational, all agencies will have to route their requests through the secured platform.

The European Union and the USA, along with a host of other countries have comprehensive privacy laws, which also lay down conditions for access to databases, and the limitations of such use. A similar approach is imperative in the case of NATGRID to uphold the sovereign electorate’s right to oversee institutions that may affect it in the future