Thursday, 18 October 2018

Essay on Right to privacy in India for UPSC

Essay on Right to privacy in India for UPSC

Essay on Right to privacy in India for UPSC
“The right to personal privacy is precious. Without it, we are all potential victims for a prying secret police.” -Lewis B. Smedes

What is privacy? When one thinks about this term, there is no limit where we can reach. Privacy is a need of the individuals by virtue of his or her existence. In broader aspects, it can be a part of bodily integrity, personal autonomy, protection from state surveillance, informational self-determination, confidentiality, dignity, compelled speech and freedom to more or think. Privacy is the necessity in each and every phase of life. 

But in today's day and age of globalization and digitalization, privacy is left to be a myth only. The individual space and privacy is often invaded. Internet and social media has a role to play in it certainly. With so much data and connectivity, leak of privacy is obvious. The sharing of information on internet enables websites to mine the data. Google, Amazon, Facebook, Twitter and other websites on which some or the other information of a person is shared tends to be in knowledge of biggest companies to use it as a marketing strategy. Data is the new natural resource. One will be amazed to know that world's largest taxi company; Uber owns no vehicles of its own. The world's most popular media owner, Facebook creates no content. The most valuable retailer, Alibaba has no inventory and the world's largest accommodation provider, Airbnb owns no real estate. With the hi-tech internet today, these organizations are able to figure out about our whereabouts and the places we visit frequently, about our friends, shopping habits and the places we are travelling too. This has some or the other way been a boon and a bane too. This gives immense opportunities for the companies to market themselves online on the cost of hampering individual's privacy. 

Privacy enjoys a sturdy legal framework internationally. Article 12 of Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), 1948 and Article 17 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), 1966 legally protects the persons against any interference with one's privacy, family, honor, home, correspondence and reputation. In 1979, India also signed and ratified the ICCPR without any reservation. The Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European also recognizes the respect for privacy in terms of family, home and communications. It also recognizes the protection of any personal information and its collection for a specified legal purpose. Nations like United States, Canada, South Africa, The European Union and UK have recognized privacy as the fundamental right. However, India has recently joined these democratic nations in giving its citizens the right to privacy. It has now been recognized as the fundamental right of citizens of India.   

The Constitution of India has tilled now considered the Right to Privacy extrinsic. Over the years, many people have knocked the doors of the court to justify the breach of privacy. But Supreme Court has denied the right to privacy citing it as alien to the Indian Constitution. The trigger to make privacy a fundamental right of the citizens came into purview after government Aadhar scheme was questioned for breach of privacy by leakage of personal data. Aadhar was launched by the Central Government as a single identity proof and takes account of your personal details, biometrics and iris scan. Considering how government and service providers seek personal information and how this information can be exploited, the Supreme Court nine-judge bench unanimously declared Right to Privacy as an integral part of Right to Life and Personal Liberty guaranteed in Article 21 of the Constitution. Privacy has been declared a fundamental right as it is intrinsic to the right to life. The government has been asked by the SC to convince them how forcing citizens to give a sample of their fingerprints and their iris scan does not violate privacy. The judgment came out after an intense debate of the bench with legal scholars and prominent lawyers. The Government argued that the founders of the Constitution rejected the idea of inclusion of privacy as a fundamental right. While on the other hand, the petitioners were vocal about how privacy is the need of the hour in this technologically dynamic society where state or private players can intrude into one's personal space and data and how recognition of privacy as a fundamental freedom can help deter it. In fact Justice Chandrachud aptly described the overall apprehension of the public in his words- "I don't want the state to pass on my personal information to some 2,000 service providers who will send me WhatsApp messages offering cosmetics and air conditioners. That is our area of concern. Personal details turn into vital commercial information for private service providers." Apart from the data mining and leakage the right to privacy also encompasses the liberty to individuals to have a choice of preferences in different areas of life like what and how one will eat, the way of dressing, whom to marry, one's sexual preferences and even euthanasia. This is a huge change in the history of the country where importance has been given to each person of the society irrespective of their socio-economic background and influence. 

With right to privacy in place now several laws, rules and guidelines will have to be refurbished to make them in accordance of the new fundamental right. Some of these will include homosexuality and LGBT rights, unauthorized phone taps, reproductive right, juvenile justice etc. NATGRID, a program conceptualized by the Home Ministry post the 26/11 Mumbai attacks which requires integration of 25 categories of database from various agencies like railways, banks, airlines, credit card companies, immigration, etc. to make it accessible to law enforcement officers, will also seek amendments in several laws which includes transferring of data related to bank and property. This privacy judgment will prove to be in interest of the general public and the state and non-state players will have to find other ways to commercialize themselves. 

The Right to Privacy will empower the citizens of the country which sometimes get exploited knowingly and unknowingly with regard to their personal information. With society being empowered, the country will see a new rise of growth and development on the lines of equality and justice.



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