Examine the concerns about privacy issues with Digital India programme.

Published: February 4, 2016

Digital India is the umbrella program of various initiatives that was launched in 2015 to make India a digitally empowered society. The initiatives under Digital India include all departments and ministries within its scope. Implementation is monitored and overseen by a Digital India Advisory Group headed by the Ministry of Communications.

Right to privacy

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

  • Most of the initiatives of the Digital India program are associated with Aadhaar based authentication. 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 Aadhaar 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.
  • The recent Ransomware, Wannacry malware attack is a matter of concern for the digital platforms.

Way out

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 through the Digital India initiative 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.

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