What do you understand by Right to Privacy? Examine various issues around Right to Privacy in recent times in India.

The right to privacy is an element of various legal provisions in any civilized society to impede governmental and private actions that creates a threat to the privacy of the individuals. Owing to the technological revolution, the concern for privacy has become higher than at any time in recent history.

Issues

The speed with which information today is produced, collected, and analyzed, has redefined the “definition of personal data”. For instance, the personal information and preferences of a user can be easily generated by tracking the activities of the individual on various internet platforms like social media platforms, online transactions, browsing history, etc. This has further raised the dilemmas of what constitutes private and personal information.

Recent issues

  • The collection of biometric data i.e. retina scan fingerprints during the Aadhaar registration have been the responsibility of private agencies, thus, raising concerns about its misuse.
  • The scheme has been launched without any backing of the law and therefore there is no guarantee that data will not be used for any other purpose. For example by law enforcement agencies for snooping on citizens etc. Therefore, breach of the right to privacy has become a central issue.
  • To implement the Digital India initiative of the Indian government, a big database platform is needed which consolidates its public records. The concerns about privacy issues with Digital India get legitimacy from the fact that its massive project would generate a lot of data; and foreign collaboration is one of the pillars on which it would stand. Once the data is sold outside the country, it is not only subject to misuse but also is out of national jurisdiction. Without proper safeguarding, the privacy of the people would be surely encroached.
  • It is possible that two individuals could have the same DNA profiles. In this regard, the Human DNA Profiling Bill raised some serious concerns i.e. misuse, false arrest, surveillance over citizens, etc.
  • The media trial has been alleged to violate the Fundamental Rights of an individual. Not only the suspects and accused but also the victims suffer from excessive publicity and invasion of their privacy rights.

Comment

The concern about the privacy issue is a bone of contention. At the same time, it is also essential to deliver quality governance in the country. Only the introduction of new technology and innovation can provide the massive changes that are required in the country. However, such a project must be accompanied by proper data protection and privacy law. Citizens of the country should feel confident in their privacy while using such facilities.

Question for UPSC Mains:
What do you understand by Right to Privacy? Examine various issues around Right to Privacy in recent times in India.

Published: February 4, 2016 | Modified:September 25, 2020

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