British companies have allegedly been marketing and selling spy technology to countries, including India, which are accused of using the tech to breach individual privacy laws, according to media reports. Sources cited by the reports claim the firms were licensed to sell surveillance kits to India, Pakistan, Oman, and the UAE, among others.
In addition, media reports quoting UK government’s export license data for the first three months of 2020 revealed that an unidentified British company was granted permission to export interception equipment to Pakistan. During the same period, such companies were also granted licenses to export such tools to Indonesia, India, Oman, the UAE, and South Africa.
British companies are required to acquire a license from the government to export surveillance technology, as it is a “dual-use” technology which can be used for both military and civilian purposes.
Surveillance and wiretapping are allowed in India under certain procedures established by law, although the nation's Supreme Court has ruled that the right to have private telephone conversations are protected under Article 21 of India's Constitution, which guarantees peoples' Right to Life and Personal Liberty.
Recently the federal ruling party Bharatiya Janata Party demanded a federal probe into the alleged tapping of phones of legislators in Rajasthan amid a political crisis, triggered by former Deputy Chief of the State Sachin Pilot’s open revolt.
India’s federal Home Ministry had told Parliament in November 2019 that it had not given any blanket permission to any agency to intercept or monitor phone calls. The government’s clarification came following allegations of intercepts of the social media messages of journalists and civil rights activists.
The government however, clarified that the Information Technology Act of 2000 empowers both federal and state governments to investigate any computer or mobile networks in the interest of Indian sovereignty.