Data Privacy: In contemporary times, it is data that drives us, our day to day activities and what not. Data is the new resource not less valuable than any other resources. We are so surrounded by data and yet fail to recognize how much importance it holds.
These are the times of information overload where it has become difficult to figure out between what is right and what is a manipulation. Therefore, data comes with its own set of responsibilities as well as liabilities.
Data is a resource which is driving markets, companies, health industry and of course politics too. We need data to predict consumer sentiment, markets, weather, how an economy is doing, formulate policies, plans and carry out research.
So, it is clear that data is an important commodity, but a big question of privacy emerges parallely. The sources from where this data, specifically personal data of citizens or consumers is retrieved must undergo a check for the privacy factor.
A balance between useful exploitation of data and privacy of the data subject needs to be maintained. For the past few years, India has faced questions relating to the privacy of information. India is a country where a huge lot of population use smartphones, simply providing a huge database with variable and distinct information.
We are a country which seems to be very economically efficient in the eyes of Business Process Outsourcing firms (BPO) which establish in India to enjoy the benefit of low wages to the workers. It is notable that business processing work of these firms revolve around transfer of personal data for information like credit card transactions, processing insurance claims etc.
Not only private firms, a lot of buzz has been around government organisations claiming that they keep surveillance on citizens and store data from entities like AADHAR or Aarogya Setu. Data can be collected by a variety of platforms such as while purchasing goods and services or by registering or enrolling in e-commerce or online education.
This day can be transferred to third parties even without one’s knowledge. Often, data privacy policies are given in applications and websites, but complete knowledge is hard to obtain.
The hype around data theft, piracy and misuse is not theoretical, episodes like Cambridge Analytica have time and again proved how ill-placed data protection policies are of the applications that are used by people daily. Misuse and theft of personal data can prove to be disastrous if caught in the hands of organisations of the dark web or terror organizations.
India’s ambitious NATGRID project is completely based on collating data from various sources on a common platform which will be accessible by organisations like IB and RAW. Using data for national interest is acceptable but misusing it in its shadow is cheating.
Therefore, strong data protection laws and policies are required. The Personal Data Protection (PDP) Bill of 2019 promises a huge improvement over the existing laws but gives a key for surveillance to the state by some exceptions.
The issues regarding data localisation in India have become a moot point. Data localisation laws require data of the citizens to be stored within the country so that citizens can exercise their rights in a better way, however at the same time it makes it easier for the government to keep domestic surveillance and forbid people to choose to save their data outside the country like in EU where data protection laws are more robust.
The Supreme court in its judgement upheld Right to Privacy under which Privacy of data is also concerned. It is important to have data security and privacy laws not only to give people more rights to handle their data but to prevent misuse and closing any backdoor for hackers.
Procedures must be laid to allow entities to retain data only until it is required. Consumers must be made more aware about their rights, also what they are subscribing into and what information they provide and how it is relevant. People must be provided with clear terms and conditions about affiliates and third party accesses. Data controllers must be responsible for any leak and disclosure of data without the knowledge of the subject.
The EU General Data Protection Regulation law can be referred to as a model for formulating laws for India which primarily gives individuals control over their personal data.
However, it is of utmost importance that we make such laws which are suitable for Indian scenario as most of the people are unaware of their rights concerning personal data. Awareness and education about the issue is also necessary.
Therefore, a lot of discussions and deliberations can yield a positive result. A robust data protection law which provides a modern solution to this modern problem must be formulated.
AUTHOR:- SURAMYA SHARMA
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