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Editorial

TOI EDIT-India’s Spygate We need answers on severe breach of citizen privacy

November 02, 2019 06:37 AM

COURTESY TIMES OF INDIA NOV 2

India’s Spygate
We need answers on severe breach of citizen privacy
The controversy over the use of spyware Pegasus by unidentified entities to violate the privacy of some Indians highlights multiple risks. Foremost among them is that India is in the midst of an unprecedented personal data collection drive by both public and private entities without a reasonable legislative architecture to safeguard privacy. If data is the new oil, India’s political executive and legislature are guilty of being flippant in safeguarding it. We still don’t have a personal data protection legislation though it’s about two years since Supreme Court emphatically upheld the citizen’s fundamental right to privacy.

The apex court verdict was all encompassing. Not only did it set limits on state intervention, it also pointed out the state has an obligation to safeguard the fundamental right to privacy of individuals. When it comes to enhancing accountability when state surveillance is called for, we currently have a private member’s bill in Parliament which seeks to bring in judicial oversight in surveillance process. This must be taken up and passed into law. The fact is that India’s surveillance laws are crafted for the analog age. Given the radical evolution in technology, the existing legal architecture is all but useless.


Government has indicated that a personal data protection bill will be introduced in the winter session of Parliament. It should permit debate to improve the quality of legislation. This is necessary to put in place a framework which can adapt to the evolution of technology. Attendant to a legislative framework will be the creation of a data protection regulator. The quality of the regulator will be critical in upholding the apex court verdict on privacy. NDA has its work cut out to create this framework. In the interim, we do need credible answers on who used Pegasus to violate citizens’ fundamental rights

 
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