RIGHT TO PRIVACY in a highly connected world…

Published by Sudhanshu Killedar on

The recent judgement by the Indian Supreme Court about the use of Aadhar may seem to be a victory for the establishment and for the UIDAI (Unique Identification Authority of India ) in particular. The Supreme Court which ruled not too long ago that Aadhar cannot be made compulsory because it does not handle biometric information securely seems to be taking a different view.

If the argument is that the scheme is still voluntary and the Goverment  cannot force it to be used for social schemes is valid, what provisions are made and can be enforced by the Courts to make sure that biometric identity information is not misused.

Its all fine if we trust the current disposition at the center, but history tells us that nothing stays the same forever. The fickle Indian polity and the caste/creed equations in each election can elect an untrustworthy government just as easily as a well-meaning govt with a true interest in its people. Then it would be another round of petitions in the courts…

Would it not be better if there is a vigourous public discussion and an examination of the issues at hand? Are the courts the right place to decide about this?

Right to PrivacyAadhar usage everywhere is curtailed  due to the actions of 20 petitioners; but do these people have the strength to withstand the sustained assault from the government and other agencies who seem hell-bound to use Aadhar regardless of the directions from the Supreme Court.

Unfortunately, there are more questions than answers given the shoddy nature of project implementation of most government schemes.

Will a plebiscite (like the was conducted in Greece recently) for all Indians to vote on this issue help?

 

Fundamentally, its the right to privacy and the option to move about freely in the country quite anonymously is what makes India a free country. The invasion of the right to privacy is just the first step in making it a less likeable place to live in.


2 Comments

manisha · October 19, 2015 at 5:36 pm

I quite rightly agree with your viewpoint. You have raised significant questions regarding policy making, whether discussions should happen on the public fora and whether or not the court is the right place to decide this question. UID came with so much pompous and was readily accepted by our systems though such questions were rightly raised at those time too but how effectively they have been answered is doubtful. The massive investment done by the government in the scheme is evident of how much importance it attaches to it. while dismissing it altogether will completely make it futile further will burden our economy. what could be done is coming up with appropriate rules and regulations to safeguard information. Discussions will play an important role as it will point out effectively what sort measure could be taken for safeguarding the same. well i think Supreme Court seems to be better place to discuss this issue as it basically concerns our fundamental right further adding legitimacy to the discussion. this could be a step in the right direction.

Deeps · October 27, 2015 at 4:27 pm

The main problem with Indian policy makers is that, when people elect them, they think that what ever they do, is good for people.
Policies like these should be discussed well with the public before making them law. As Angus Deaton, who won Nobel Prize in economics this year had said, without involving public in making policy decisions most of the policies will not meet the set goals.
Even though the idea of giving unique identity to every resident of this country was indeed a good idea, but it has been used for political gains. The same UID can be issued to everyone without collecting the bio metrics. Thus by reducing burden on the government to maintain the data and also allay the fears in the minds of public that their identity would be at state.

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