En­act Strong Pri­vacy Pro­tec­tion Law

Pri­vacy goes be­yond Aad­haar and its data

The Economic Times - - The Edit Page -

The Unique Iden­ti­fi­ca­tion Author­ity of In­dia, which is­sues Aad­haar cards, has reg­is­tered a com­plaint of some­one mak­ing use of stored bio­met­ric in­for­ma­tion for Aad­haar au­tho­ri­sa­tion, rais­ing con­cerns over how se­curely in­for­ma­tion col­lected from cit­i­zens to build Aad­haar, the unique iden­tity num­ber, is stored and used. The Aad­haar (Tar­geted De­liv­ery of Fi­nan­cial and Other Sub­si­dies, Ben­e­fits and Ser­vices) Act says that im­per­son­ation or in­ten­tional copy­ing of Aad­haar data is a crim­i­nal of­fence. Those found guilty must be pun­ished. Se­cu­rity of per­sonal in­for­ma­tion goes be­yond Aad­haar. In­dia should not de­lay an un­am­bigu­ous law to pro­tect cit­i­zen’s pri­vacy, given the ju­di­cial in­ter­pre­ta­tion that pri­vacy is a de­riv­a­tive of fun­da­men­tal rights.

It must be mod­elled on the Euro­pean Union’s ap­proach to pri­vacy. The EU has com­mon rules to en­sure that per­sonal data en­joy a high stan­dard of pro­tec­tion across its mem­ber states -- a cit­i­zen has the right to com­plain and ob­tain re­dress if her data are mis­used any­where within the EU, and or­gan­i­sa­tions that col­lect and man­age per­sonal in­for­ma­tion are man­dated to pro­tect it from mis­use. Rightly, Aad­haarseeded bank ac­counts are now used to trans­fer ben­e­fits di­rectly to the ben­e­fi­ciary. Peo­ple must share in­for­ma­tion as it is in their in­ter­est to do so, but ab­sence of a sep­a­rate law on pri­vacy raises the chance of Aad­haar be­ing mis­used, for ex­am­ple to con­nect the sep­a­rate si­los in which med­i­cal, fi­nan­cial, le­gal in­for­ma­tion is stored. In­dian res­i­dents need a guar­an­tee that their per­sonal data would not fall into the wrong hands.

A telling ex­am­ple is the re­ported sale of phone num­bers of girls at mo­bile recharge shops in Ut­tar Pradesh to men who then stalk th­ese girls. Call records or trans­ac­tions stored on as­sorted mes­sag­ing ap­pli­ca­tions also pose a threat to pri­vacy, un­der­scor­ing the need for a strong law. It should spec­ify the cir­cum­stances in which pri­vacy can be breached by the state, and sep­a­rate si­los must be merged only for na­tional se­cu­rity and af­ter fol­low­ing due pro­ce­dure that in­cludes ju­di­cial sanc­tion.

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