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An estimated 3-minute read

Summary Report: Celebrating the Right to be Let Alone [Sep 02, 2017; New Delhi]

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by sflc_admin    |    September 4, 2017

On Sep 2, 2017, SFLC.in organized a discussion titled “Celebrating the Right To Be Let Alone” to commemorate the recent recognition of right to privacy as a fundamental right, discuss the privacy judgment, its key takeaways, the impact it will have on pending Aadhaar litigations, how it will affect various aspects of policy making and the way forward from here. Speakers included experts from academia, civil society and law.

Mr. Saikat Datta, Journalist and Policy Director at Centre for Internet and Society was moderating the discussion.

Mr. Prasanna S, Advocate, has been involved in the privacy and Aadhaar litigations since its inception. He elucidated the history of privacy litigations in India, and gave a brief background of the judgments of M.P Sharma and Kharak Singh, including judgments from the 1970s onwards. He further explained the recent privacy judgment in detail. On being asked the implications of the judgment on Aadhaar, Mr. Prasanna S highlighted the key parts of the judgment that talked about the balancing of compelling state interests with the right to privacy and the principle of proportionality.

Mr. Vickram Crishna, Technologist, Human Rights Activist, Board Member at SFLC.in and one of the petitioners’ in the Aadhaar case was of the opinion that the Unique Identification Authority of India cannot be the custodian of peoples’ private data. He discussed the all-pervasive nature of technology and how it has creeped into all aspects of our lives. However, he disagreed with the point of view that privacy is broken by technology. He emphasized that the lack of privacy due to the advancement of technology should not be used as an excuse, and that we should still find ways to protect and reassert our right to privacy. Mr. Crishna also expressed his anguish with the Government and mentioned that he feels abandoned as a citizen, when he witnesses the Government flouting Supreme Court orders that make Aadhaar a voluntary scheme.

Dr. Usha Ramanathan, Legal Researcher and an internationally recognized expert on law and poverty, was of the view that the Aadhaar project is not just about the violation of privacy, but also built to favor corporate interests. She remarked that the project is not helping in the siphoning of money, but in fact, excluding people from obtaining welfare benefits that they otherwise are entitled to. However, she maintained that elevating the right to privacy to the status of fundamental right will make a strong case against Aadhaar. Ms. Ramanathan also talked about the implications of the judgment on right to information. Lastly, she emphasized that the only solution to countering mass surveillance projects like Aadhaar by the Government is civil disobedience.

Ms. Ritu Srivastava, Assistant General manager, Research and Advocacy, Digital Empowerment Foundation, expressed her views on the use of technology for the purpose of governance. She said that there are various other alternatives to Aadhaar that can be employed for identification. Ms. Srivastava was of the opinion that citizens and the Government need to be mutually transparent, but such is not the case with respect to Aadhaar, wherein only citizens are expected to be transparent and there is no information with regard to the security system of Aadhaar and the ownership of data that is collected.

Mr. Sukarn Singh Maini, Counsel at SFLC.in, illuminated on the recent committee formed by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) and headed by former Justice B.N Srikrishna, to decide India’s data protection policy and come up with a draft data protection bill. Mr. Maini also highlighted the key points of the consultation paper on data privacy that has been floated by TRAI and is awaiting comments from the public.

The discussion was followed by a brief audience interaction round.






Author: sflc_admin
©Republished under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-SA 3.0) Licence
SFLC.IN is a donor supported legal services organisation that  brings together lawyers, policy analysts, technologists, and students to protect freedom in the digital world. SFLC.IN promotes innovation and open access to knowledge by helping developers make great Free and Open Source Software, protect privacy and civil liberties for citizens in the digital world by educating and providing free legal advice and help policy makers make informed and just decisions with the use and adoption of technology. SFLC.IN is a society registered under the Societies Registration Act, 1860, operating all over India.
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