Legislation to protect Individual Privacy

The Right to privacy is recognition of the individual’s right to be let alone and to have his personal space inviolate. India does not have a constitutional right to privacy, although the courts have found an implicit right to privacy in the constitution. No one has a right to peep into one’s privacy and the law of privacy is a recognition of the of the individual’s right to be let alone and to have his personal space inviolate. Right to Privacy is a ‘right to be let alone’ and a citizen has a right ‘to safeguard the privacy of his own, his family, marriage, procreation, motherhood, child-bearing and education among other matters’. Right to privacy is not enumerated as a fundamental right in our Constitution but has been inferred from Article 21. The Right to Privacy has been developed by the Supreme Court over a period of time and with the expansive interpretation of the phrase `personal liberty’, this right has been read into Article 21.

Amid going concern over possible misuse of data under government control, the government has set up a panel comprising of senior babus to prepare a blueprint laying down the ground rules for privacy and data protection and fixing the criminal liability of offenders. The government has moved forward to enact new legislation on privacy in the backdrop of Aadhaar, the project to provide unique identity cards to residents of the country, and the National Intelligence Grid (Natgrid) which will give access to 21 categories of database like rail and air travel, income tax, phone calls, bank account details, credit card transactions, visa and immigration records, driving licenses of all citizens. The NIG database will be accessed by a total of 11 agencies, including the recently set-up National Investigation Agency (NIA). The Civil Right Activists made a huge cry over the possible misuse of the individual privacy and insisted on legislative measure to stop the possible misuse and punish the violators of the privacy, including the government.

The present Information Technology Act, 2000 does contain some provisions which deal with data base security and privacy for instance Section 43, 43 A, 66E and 72A. However, these provisions deals with the security of the electronic records, e-commerce transactions, and web content alone and do not address “individual privacy”. As the organizations, government non government acquires more personal information store in electronic form, privacy and confidentiality have become urgent issues. This author feels that the privacy of an individual be given due respect and should be protected by uniform, national legislation. Privacy legislation needs to be constructed carefully and prudently to protect the privacy of individuals, while facilitating the ongoing national mission to ensure the security of the state that can benefit us all.

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