“Privacy is the Function of Liberty”. Every Individual has some Rights and in the same way, he is entitled to the right to privacy. It’s the right that an individual possesses by birth, as the simple definition of privacy states that it’s the right of the individual to be left alone which is regarded to be an absolute one. In India, this right is recognized by Common law and it plays a very vital role to uphold one’s liberty. It’s a right enshrined to every individual across the globe which itself is the basis of human dignity and freedom. The preamble of the biggest democracy of the world i.e., India, guarantees everyone the liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship, where Article 21 protects one’s dignity and personal autonomy. It speaks of the right to life and personal liberty where privacy holds a place and this even has got legal recognition. And in the so-called Indian Context, the right to privacy has got its existence after widening up the dimensions of Article 21 of our Indian Constitution. As discussed in a general sense, privacy means the right to be let alone, and the state must protect our rights at any cost. Indian Constitution guarantees a fundamental right to privacy to its citizens. This epic move was upheld by the Honourable Supreme court of India in its decision by a 9-bench constitutional bench in August 2017. Where it said that the Right to Privacy is indeed a fundamental right of every individual with reasonable restrictions and one needs to consider this right to be a part of Article 21.
In the case of Govind v. State of M. P (1975), the Supreme court held that the right to privacy was said to encompass and protect the personal intimacies of the home, the family, marriage, motherhood, procreation, and child-rearing. However, the right to privacy is subject to “compelling state interest”. This one sentence has a very wider scope which sometimes has both pros and cons. The state must remember that its action must have a legitimate state purpose. The Historic judgment in the K.S. Puttaswamy has hardly resulted in the so-called rights-based handling of personal liberty and Data Handling. But this has for sure fundamentally changed the perception in which the government viewed its citizens’ privacy., be it in practice and prescription. One question which makes everyone bother is that whether our privacy is well secured enough or not. The Central government went on to build up many structural reforms to safeguard our Privacy and brought transparency in the data surveillance with judicial oversight over it. Privacy and personal information are the two aspects that all citizens wish to uphold their liberty. Is our data secured? So far, the Government has legislated regulatory, rights-oriented Data Protection laws which are vital weapons that deal with personal data and accountability of the state to secure one Privacy.
DATA PROTECTION AND PRESENT-DAY SCENARIO
Data protection laws are the set of laws and regulations which govern the privacy of an individual and ensures that no personal data of that concerned person comes out in the public domain without their consent, were the law embodies a principle that the state must be the sole model data controller and has the responsibility to follow a high standard of observance over data surveillance. In this modern world of advanced technology, the protection of privacy has just become a myth. We are in an era where our life is just incomplete with the Internet and many find online to be the best place to secure their personal information. Data Protection and privacy regulation should be secured enough for the sake of personal liberty. India in particular lacks at having a proper all-inclusive Data protection system. Many deliberative legislations have been made such as the Information technology act, 2000 and the Information Technology rules of, 2011 to meet our data privacy needs. To what extent this has been successful in securing our privacy are just unknown, and are very well cited to just bungle enough. As stated, theirs an absolute need for a proper data protection regulation that can tackle the serious security implications and further can address the myriad burden of the venerable masses of our country. E-commerce platforms are the ones that are often prone to cause a threat to the personal privacy of individuals. The recent issue of the Pegasus attacks as described in the amnesty international report is a worrisome situation as it directly plots the failure of the Government in securing the personal liberty of individuals, and at the same time defending such attacks will be impossible. These so-called issues for sure will have a deeply chilling effect on one’s personal and civil liberties which itself are crucial for the functioning of democracy. In the name of National security, the state cannot just halt at what it owes from its citizens, i.e., securing their liberties. A most troublesome opinion which we find among many is that they go on to justify the acts of states or to say such transgressions in the name of national security. There are innumerable situations where journalists, activists, politicians who are kept at surveillance for some other gains in the name of national security, will for sure weaken the grounds of national security and personal liberty and the government here need to remember that the right to dissent is the hallmark of democracy which for sure will pave the way to distinguish between criticism and protests from various violent acts.
Data protection laws with at most transparency is the need of the hour, as such framework will be vital for defining the contours of the so-called lawful surveillance and data processing. The fundamental protector of our privacy, i.e., the state has to take up some legitimate requirements, surveillance reforms with magnificent data protection standards to keep our liberties intact. To make the sentence i.e., our privacy is not private enough, it’s the duty of the government to be clear on its stand’s and define a proper authorization chain and its purpose, with clear limitations. It should focus on Ex-ante prevention rather than on the ex-post detection of various violations. Fundamental rights are vital to repose the faith constitutional morality. The world’s largest democracy should uphold its significant constitutional values for the very sake of Society. Privacy is our fundamental right, no one can ever damage our responsibility as the state itself is the protector of our liberty. The government’s commitment to protecting its citizens’ right to speech and privacy should not be scathed at any cost. The government should be committed to combat any unlawful surveillance and protecting privacy should be the main task. Because “Privacy is not negotiable, it’s the right of every individual”.
Author’s Name: Rathod Arun Kumar (HPNLU, Shimla)