The Delhi High Court recently put restrictions on sharing of users' data between popular social media platforms WhatsApp and Facebook. Mishi Choudhary, technology lawyer and legal director at the New York-based Software Freedom Law Center, an organisation that offers pro-bono legal services to developers of free and open source software, tells Sudipto Dey why absence of data security and privacy laws could lead to a digital disaster. Edited excerpts:
The Delhi High Court recently observed in the WhatsApp case the lack of clarity on whether the Right to Privacy was a fundamental right. Does this highlight a dichotomy where companies and businesses have privacy policies, while the country does not have a legislation to protect privacy?
Let me point out to you a very interesting piece by Arun Jaitley, which he had penned after a controversy erupted around his call detail records (2013). He had said, "Firstly, every citizen in India has a right to privacy. His right to privacy is an inherent aspect of his personal liberty. Interference in the right to privacy is interference in his personal liberty by a process which is not fair, just or reasonable. A person's call detail records can throw up details of several transactions. In the case of an average citizen, it can reflect on his relationships. In the case of a professional or a business person, it can reflect on his financial transactions. In the case of a journalist, it can reveal the identity of his sources. In the case of a politician, it can reveal the identity of the person with whom he has regular access. Every person has a 'right to be left alone'. In a liberal society, there is no place for those who peep into the private affairs of individuals. No one has the right to know who communicates with him...".
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