The editorial, “The new fundamental” (August 25), encapsulates the historic and landmark judgement of the Right to Privacy correctly. I am happy Business Standard has taken a view of the privacy issue and directed public opinion on it.
There are several contentious issues. One, whether Aadhaar adoption will lead to techno-surveillance, as has been alleged. There has been no word about Central Monitoring Services, developed by the Centre for Development of Telematics, and Netra projects of the Defence Research and Development Organisation. This is believed to have become prominent under the present administration. Likewise, Project Insight by the income tax department that now accounts for social media updates. After this judgment, a balanced and nuanced approach would be required so as not to compromise on national security goals.
Silicon Valley majors with a considerable presence in India are a more vital, persistent threat; internal surveillance is still subject to Indian laws and judicial oversight, but that the mass of generated data is being ferreted out of India without adequate control requires the country to set up a data shield and clamp down on egress.
China’s path is worth emulating in this regard. Despite howls of protest, Apple and Microsoft have bent over backwards to get a slice of the Chinese market while Google and Facebook have been denied entry for the benefit of home-grown companies.
India could reap rich dividends with multiple trickle-down benefits for Digital India, pursuing a safe harbour for data retention within the country’s geographical confines. If data is the new oil, we deserve full benefit of this “oil boom”.
This judgment brings up a lot of interesting possibilities and has helped bring privacy to the forefront. Hopefully, people will become more aware of keeping things private.
Abhishek Puri Mohali
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