Friday, June 3, 2011

Right To Privacy In India In Pipeline

Privacy law in India is the need of the hour. This is more so where privacy rights in India are frequently violated through various e-surveillance projects of Indian government. India has no dedicated privacy law. The Supreme Court of India interpreted it by expanding the scope of Article 21 of the Constitution.

Meanwhile, Indian government launched projects like Aadhar, National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID), Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and Systems (CCTNS), National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC), Central Monitoring System (CMS), Centre for Communication Security Research and Monitoring (CCSRM), etc. None of them are governed by any Legal Framework and none of them are under Parliamentary Scrutiny.

These projects have also raised serious privacy violations issues as well that have still not been redressed by Indian government.

Realising that this may cause problems in future, the Law Ministry of India is working on a proposal to make right to privacy a fundamental right in the Indian Constitution. This is the right approach as without privacy safeguards all the recently launched projects of Indian government are “unconstitutional”.

We are working on making right to privacy a fundamental right. It is likely to be tabled in the monsoon session of Parliament. However, it's difficult to commit the timeframe, law minister Veerappa Moily said.

The right to privacy would include the right to confidentiality of communication, confidentiality of private or family life, protection of his honour and good name, protection from search, detention or exposure of lawful communication between individuals, privacy from surveillance, confidentiality of banking, financial, medical and legal information, protection from identity theft of various kinds, protection of use of a person's photographs, fingerprints, DNA samples and other samples taken at police stations and other places and protection of data relating to individual.

Many of these are already observed at a practical level. For example, it's a part of professional ethics of a lawyer or a doctor not to reveal details about clients or patients. The same applies for the banking sector. Apart from strengthening norms for interception of communication, the proposed Act will guarantee an individual's right to privacy. It's similar in the way the Constitution guarantees existing fundamental rights like right to equality, right to freedom of expression etc," explained a senior law ministry official.

The proposed legislation must be enacted keeping in mind the techno legal aspects. Technology would create serious challenges before Indian government and necessary provisions must be incorporated to deal with the same in future.

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