NATGRID – INDIA’S ROBUST COUNTER-TERRORISM PLATFORM

WHAT IS NATGRID? 

NATGRID(or National Intelligence Grid) is a complex structure that connects the database of various core security agencies to fight against or counter-terrorism activities in the country. 

Thus, it can be called a huge integrated intelligence master database structure. It will work under supervision of the Government of India. 

It will use Big Data Analytics and Artificial Intelligence to analyze and interpret the data on a real-time basis. 

Head office will be located in Delhi and the Data center will be located in Karnataka’s Bengaluru

WHY IT IS NEWS?

Recently the Govt. sources has said that, Prime Minister Narendra Modi soon going to launch NATGRID which will enhance India’s counter terror capabilities

BACKGROUND OF ITS FORMATION

The unforgettable terror attacks in Mumbai in 2008, popularly known as 26/11. That attack was a series of terror attacks when 10 terrorists of Lashkar-e-Taiba (an Islamist Group from Pakistan) carried shooting and bombing attacks for four days in Mumbai, starting from 26th November to 29th November 2008. Under this attack, around 174 people had lost their lives and 300 were wounded.

PROBLEM STATEMENT:

BIGGEST INTELLIGENCE FAILURE

  • Post this brutal terror incident, this has been observed that prevailing intelligence agencies are unable to sense any future or probable terror attacks in the country. This was majorly due to weak co-ordination and poor information sharing mechanism between the agencies.
  • As an immediate measure, two new agencies has been formed the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and the National Counter-Terrorism Center (NCTC).
  • However, still there was need for an adequate and quick Information sharing mechanism among different intelligence agencies within the country. 

Why? 

  • Because, none of the intelligence agencies were able to detect the terror mastermind David Headley’s     movement across the country during his multiple visits and other activities between 2006 and 2009.
  • Hence, in 2009 the then Home Minister P Chidambaram suggested to form NATGRID as an exclusive platform to help access some kind of security related data, process and analyze them and further it can detect any possible terrorist threats much before it happens. 
  • Thus, NATGRID was established in 2009, with 29 employees having headquartered in New Delhi and governing under the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India.
  • The Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) had approved ₹3,400 crores for the NATGRID project back in 2010 but its work slowed down after 2012.
  • Raghu Raman was appointed as Secretary and CEO of NATGRID in 2009, followed by Ashok Patnaik in 2016 and is currently headed by Indian Police Officer (IPS) Ashish Gupta since 2019.
  • Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on 5 February 2020 announced that Project NATGRID with all its required physical infrastructures would be completed by the end of March 2020. 
  • Further the whole information system with its necessary data would go live by 31 December 2020. 

FROM WHERE SUCH DATA CAN BE COLLECTED?

  • NATGRID will have access to database that links around 14,000 police stations
  • An MoU has already been signed in March 2020, between NATGRID and National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB)  on the Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and Systems (CCTNS) database.
  • CCTNS is a centralized online database and a platform that links around 14,000 police stations across the country where all state police are mandated to file First Information Reports (FIR) and stolen vehicles.
  • NATGRID will access such data on a “secured platform” and will become the one-stop destination for security and intelligence agencies. 

The database will give access to suspect’s information in the following way.

  1. FIR with the suspect’s details, his/her father’s name etc.
  2. Passport details, visa, immigration ( entry and exit)
  3. banking & financial transactions, like debit and credit card details ad its uses
  4. Telephone details  ( mobile number and call details)
  5. Vehicle registration details 
  6. PAN details and taxpayers data
  7. Itineraries of rail and air travel 
  8. Aadhar records, etc.
  • Like above, there will be 21 data providers for NATGRID to access for now.
  • Apart from all those sources, Govt. may also access the social media accounts of the xzsuspected person and their activities 

WHO CAN ACCESS THOSE DATA? 

In the first phase, there will be 11 prominent Federal Agencies or user agencies of our country will get access to NATGRID, 

They are 

  1.   Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW),
  2.   Intelligence Bureau (IB),
  3.   National Investigation Agency (NIA),
  4.   Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI),
  5.   Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB),
  6.   Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU),
  7.   Enforcement Directorate (ED),
  8.   Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT),
  9.   Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC),
  10.         Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI),
  11.         Directorate General of GST Intelligence (DGGI)

WHAT WILL BE ITS ADVANTAGES? 

  • It will facilitate an early warning system , i.e., it becomes the Third Eye of our security system.
  • Since NATGRID platform will help access real-time data at one place, analyze it and convert that into a    useful information against the suspected people or organizations. 
  • All those data will be managed through Big Data Analysis and Artificial Intelligence.
  • Such real-time data and information will help detecting various organized crimes such as terrorist attacks, arms smuggling, drugs smuggling, economic offences etc. much before it gets executed within our country.
  • However, the police forces will not be part of NATGRID users list but they could directly contact the airlines or railways for information for now.
  • In the upcoming phases, around 950 additional organizations will also be added 
  • And in the following years 1000 more organizations will be integrated to NATGRID

ISSUES AND CONCERNS 

Data Security : 

As per some segment of the society, access to social media is become a huge infringement privacy policy in the country.  

The threat to possible violations of privacy and leakage of confidential information. 

  • Absence of data security and privacy policy law in India till date.
  • On 24th August, 2017 – verdict in Justice K.S. Puttaswamy vs. Union of India on SC –– The right to privacy is a fundamental right and it is necessary to protect personal data as an essential facet of informational privacy. Under Article 21 – Right to Privacy.
  • In 2019, Ministry of Information Technology has presented one revised Data Protection Bill 2019 in Lok Sabha which is still under review and in pending status.
  • In Dec 2020, Delhi HC has given a notice to Center on a plea to stop Data Collection through 
      1. NATGRID( National Intelligence Grid) 
      2. CMS ( Central monitoring System under centralized telephone interception by Centre for    Development of Telematics C-DOT)
      3. NETRA ( Network Traffic Analysis under DRDO) 
  • NATGRID is exempted from RTI Act 2005, under sub-section(2) of section 24 of 
  • Police Forces don’t have access to the information, which can lead to reduced chances of immediate actions in the micro level. 
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