NATGRID

News: The PM is soon expected to launch the National Intelligence Grid or NATGRID that aims to provide cutting-edge technology to enhance India’s counter-terror capabilities.

What is NATGRID?

  • NATGRID is an intelligence sharing network that collates data from the standalone databases of the various agencies and ministries of the Indian government.
  • It is a counter terrorism measure that collects and collates a host of information from government databases including tax and bank account details, credit/debit card transactions, visa and immigration records and itineraries of rail and air travel.
  • It will also have access to the Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and Systems, a database that links crime information, including First Information Reports, across 14,000 police stations in India.
  • As of 2019, NATGRID is headed by an Indian Police Service (IPS) officer Ashish Gupta.
  • The 26/11 terrorist siege in Mumbai back in 2008 exposed the deficiency that security agencies had no mechanism to look for vital information on a real-time basis.
  • Prominent federal agencies of the country have been authorized to access the NATGRID database. They are the:
    • Central Bureau of Investigation
    • Directorate of Revenue Intelligence,
    • Enforcement Directorate
    • Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs
    • Central Board of Direct Taxes (for the Income Tax Department)
    • Cabinet Secretariat
    • Intelligence Bureau
    • Directorate General of GST Intelligence
    • Narcotics Control Bureau
    • Financial Intelligence Unit, and
    • National Investigation Agency
  • NATGRID is facing opposition on charges of possible violations of privacy and leakage of confidential personal information.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Intelligence agencies have also opposed amid fears that it would impinge on their territory and possibly result in leaks on the leads they were working on to other agencies.