1. Briefly mention the issue in news
2. Argue for and against both privacy and security. Discuss what are the issues of privacy that get violated if Aadhaar is linked to social sites, then discuss and debate on what are the advantages of doing the same.
3. Give a stand of your choice. Ensure that you have supported more, the stand you are taking.
4. Conclude by emphasizing on need to find a balanced approach to resolve the issue.
The national security versus privacy debate has time and again resurfaced. The latest Aadhaar Facebook case brings up persistent issues in the digital world: the conflict between law enforcement and people’s fundamental rights. The Supreme Court time and again stressed the need to find a balance between the right to online privacy and the right of the State to detect people who use the web to spread panic and commit crimes.
The need of Privacy to be respected-
The Constitution of India does not specifically guarantee a “right to privacy”. However, through various judgments like Justice K.S. Puttaswamy (Retd) vs. Union of India case, held that Right to Privacy is a fundamental right under Article 21.
India is a signatory to the Universal Declaration on Human Rights (Article 12) and the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights (Article 17) – both of which recognize privacy as a fundamental right.
The unfettered access to any kind of data without a legal process in place poses great risk of misuse and abuse.
The unchecked and unaccounted data collection and examination, especially by government entities would lay the foundations of a dreaded police and surveillance state.
It is critical to note that the Supreme Court, through its judgment, has laid down a clear precedent to the need to have necessary safeguards and oversight mechanisms.
The court also emphasised on the opportunity for every citizen to be heard before his/her data is collected. Citizens deserve a right to know why and for what purpose their data is collected, as enshrined in the privacy judgment that guarantees the Right to Privacy to 130 crore Indians.
The privacy judgment did outline the tests of legality, legitimate aim, proportionality and procedural safeguards that are fundamental aspects which require qualification by the state before disclosure of citizen’s data.
The intelligence agencies, although accountable to a different set of laws through regulatory mechanisms, do not come under the purview of an ‘oversight mechanism’, including Parliament or the General Comptroller of India.
The Need of surveillance by state:
Unregulated domain: Social media platforms are self-regulated as government does not regulate content appearing on social network platforms; hence ‘due diligence’ is need of the hour for social media.
Organised crime: Social media has become a tool for facilitating organized crime i.e. to commit and provoke extremism, money laundering, violence and crime.
Neutralising terrorist activities Surveillance would help in countering possible terrorist activities by offering better information on potential terror attacks.
Curb on fake news: Fake news is a new challenge for law enforcement agencies as many lynching incidents reported in 2018 were triggered by fake news being circulated through Whatsapp and other social media sites.
Misuse of privacy clause: Until now, it was not possible to trace the origin of a message given the privacy settings of companies. However, the government has sought “technical innovation” from the company to address the issue. The regulations are justified as they strike a pragmatic balance between the competing values of privacy and security.
Enforces Supreme Court’s advisory: The SC order Tehseen S. Poonawalla case and Prajwala Letter Case, which asked government to frame guidelines or a standard operating procedure (SOP) to deal with the publication and proliferation of unlawful content through social media intermediaries like Google, YouTube, Facebook, and WhatsApp.
Lack of cooperation of the social media companies, the inability to pressurise these companies since they are located overseas and the lack of proper mutual legal assistance treaties are just some of the issues that come up.
Terrorist organisations such as ISIS are believed to have started using digital cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoins as the preferred funding mechanism to covertly expand their operations. Data breaches and identity thefts allow a perpetrator to execute any of the above-mentioned activities, with the onus on victims to prove their innocence.
Privacy concerns weakening the ability of our counter-terrorism and intelligence units to stay a step ahead in the darkening digital world would have grave long-term consequences.
Furthermore, measures taken to curb the efforts of the government to collect and analyse data, the primary raw material of our digital economy—while a handful of private corporations colonise the bulk of the planet’s generated data—would undermine the state’s ability to provide quality citizen services, which in turn could create turbulent
social and economic disruptions.
Robust data privacy laws are needed to allow citizens enjoy the right to privacy. The law should encompass all the aspects- data collection, processing and sharing practices.
Privacy should not be used to undermine government transparency. Data protection law should be framed such that it does not make government opaque and unaccountable
To formulate a robust data protection law, the best ideas and practices from both USA and EU’s GDPR should be adapted.
The creation of independent watchdog institutions akin to the Election Commission, preferably answerable to a parliamentary committee, with ample constitutional authority to oversee and ensure that any public or private organisation working with data complies with stringent data privacy, protection and security regulations, would be ideal steps to ensure that our citizens effectively preserve their privacy in the digital age.
The International Principles on the Application of Human Rights to Communication Surveillance recommends the establishment of “public oversight mechanisms” for state surveillance.
Principles of accountability and transparency lie at the heart of such oversight mechanisms that are critical to protect privacy of citizens.
National security is critical and paramount to India’s prosperity. However, it must be channelled through a judicial and parliamentary process, while at the same time making the agencies accountable, which lies at the core of a functioning democracy. We cannot compromise on our sovereignty and security at any cost and it doesn’t have to conflict with our right to privacy.