Domestic flyers' data on National Intelligence Grid radar
Natgrid has asked the aviation ministry to furnish data on domestic passengers flown by Indian carriers.
Officials from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), airlines, the ministry and Natgrid met on August 30, and the country’s top intelligence-sharing platform sought the data from carriers.
“The law gives them the power to ask for such data. Given the rules, we cannot deny them access,” a senior aviation ministry official, who did not want to be named, told ET. Various intelligence wings of the government will now decide which agency will gather data from the carriers, to be shared later with the others, said an official.
To be sure, the aviation ministry and DGCA have told Natgrid that airlines share a lot of data with the Bureau of Immigration (BOI) and Customs. “Neither the ministry nor DGCA collates any data and shares them with the agencies. The airlines share them directly with the agencies and have been sharing the data with the immigration and customs department. There is no need to press the airlines to share the data with one more agency now,” said the official cited above.
He added that the DGCA and the aviation ministry have asked the agencies to decide on one agency that will get the data for all flying passengers.
“We have asked them to decide among themselves that one agency will collect the data on behalf of all of them from the airlines,” the official further said.
According to sources, passenger data will likely be collected by Natgrid and made available to central agencies for their investigations.
Govt to Keep Track
These agencies include the Research and Analysis Wing, Intelligence Bureau, CBI, Financial Intelligence Unit, Central Board of Direct Taxes, Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, Enforcement Directorate, Narcotics Control Bureau, Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs, and the Directorate General of GST Intelligence. The data can also be shared with any other agency of the government.
A government official said the data would include the passenger manifest. Once the datasets are shared, the government would know the exact number of times a passenger flew between any two cities in the country. Natgrid is the integrated intelligence grid that collates data, which can be readily accessed by the agencies. It was created by the UPA government after the 2008 terrorist attack in Mumbai, and the agency was revived by the Modi government in 2016 to create a central database.