Saturday, June 09, 2018

Data code, drafted by privacy petitioners

The Telegraph: New Delhi: Saturday, June 09, 2018.
A group of lawyers and petitioners fighting the Aadhaar case in the Supreme Court have drafted an "Indian privacy code", fearing the Data Protection Bill being drawn up by the Justice B.N. Srikrishna Committee might not adequately take into account an individual's fundamental right to privacy.
The draft code was submitted to the committee on Friday and put out for public consultation through an online medium. The effort is part of a "Save Our Privacy" movement in an age when data is regarded as "the new oil" as driver of industry.
Petitioners have challenged the Aadhaar scheme's constitutionality in the Supreme Court on the ground that it violates a citizen's privacy, and that the data collected under the scheme by various agencies is at risk of leaks.
The latest controversy over Cambridge Analytica, which has been accused of misusing the private information of tens of millions of Facebook users, has further confirmed their fears.
The draft code seeks to set out conditions under which surveillance and interception of communications may be carried out, and advocates the formation of a "privacy commission".
It also takes on board the concerns expressed by RTI activists after the Supreme Court verdict last year declaring privacy a fundamental right. The activists feared that the government might cite privacy as a reason for denying information under the RTI Act.
Apar Gupta, one of 10 lawyers who drafted the code, told The Telegraph that it states that individual rights are well served by the Right to Information Act.
"So, information commissioners should be exempted from interference or control by the privacy commissioner. Specific and express language should be used for providing such exemptions and maintaining the independence of information commissioners."
Last November, many of those involved in drafting the code and others had urged Justice Srikrishna to include in the commission eminent citizens who had been consistent in advocating people's rights.