India’s NATGRID project to be operational by December 2020, says MHA

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On Wednesday, the Ministry of Home Affairs announced in the Parliament that the much anticipated National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID) Project will be completed by the end of March and will go live by 31st December 2020.

“NATGRID has been created as an IT platform to assist the security and law enforcement agencies for national security. The physical infrastructure of NATGRID Wl be completed by 31 March 2020 and IT solution will go live by 31 December 2020,” said MHA in the parliament.

What is NATGRID?

The National Intelligence Grid or NATGRID is the integrated intelligence grid connecting databases of core security agencies of the Government of India. It collects comprehensive patterns of intelligence that can be readily accessed by intelligence agencies.

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NATGRID is a counterterrorism programme, which will use modern technologies like Big Data and various analytics tools to analyse vast amounts of data from key intelligence and enforcement agencies to help track suspected terrorist activities to help prevent attacks.

It will connect, in different phases, data providing organisations and users besides developing a legal structure through which information can be accessed by the law enforcement agencies.

As per a report in The Hindu, NATGRID was conceptualised after the 26/11 Mumbai attacks. It aims to address a vital deficiency of lack of real-time and continuity of information, which was considered to be one of the biggest issues in detecting US terror suspect David Headley’s movement across the country during his multiple visits between 2006 and 2009.

As per a Swarajya report, a master database like NATGRID is especially important in the face of rising Islamic radicalisation and terrorism – the lone-wolf kind, which is hard to predict. The pooled data of various organisations and services in the country will help in identifying, capturing and prosecuting the terrorists and help foil terror plots.

The role:

NATGRID will become a secure centralised database to stream sensitive information from 21 sets of data sources such as banks, credit cards, visa, immigration and train and air travel details, as well as other relevant data from various intelligence agencies.

The database would be accessible to authorised persons from 10 agencies on a case-to-case basis, and only for professional investigations into suspected cases of terrorism. Currently, there are around 70 personnel, drawn from both the government and private sectors, in NATGRID.

In the first phase, 10 user agencies and 21 service providers will be connected, while in later phases about 950 additional organisations will be connected. In subsequent years, over 1,000 additional organisations will be connected.

The combined data shall be accessible by the central agencies namely the Directorate General of Central Excise Intelligence, Central Board of Excise and Customs, Narcotics Control Bureau, Enforcement Directorate, Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, Central Board of Direct Taxes, Financial intelligence unit, Central Bureau of Investigation, the Intelligence Bureau and the Research and Analysis Wing.

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