Balancing Privacy & Security in the Digital Age

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Sumedha Ray, a 3rd-year law student from Symbiosis Law School (Pune), writes about the need to balance privacy and security in the ‘Aadhar Age’.

After the introduction of Aadhar system in India, it is becoming increasingly difficult to strike a balance between privacy and security. Both, being equally important, keep on competing with each other. We have to strike a balance between privacy, utility, anonymity, and security. With the introduction of the Aadhar system, being more prevalent in the year 2017, it has become arduous to make people understand the significant changes that could be brought in this digital world. Privacy is a broad term which encompasses freedom of thought, control over information about oneself, protection of one’s reputation and protection of an individual’s dignity and integrity.

The term ‘privacy’, simple as it may sound, but it is not easy to define as it covers a wide area. For an individual, ‘privacy’ can mean anything and it varies from person to person. Privacy is a legal right which cannot be altered by a court of law or the likes. In a historic judgment on August 24, 2017, a nine-judge Supreme Court bench unanimously ruled that privacy is a fundamental right guaranteed by the Constitution of India.[1] Basically, it would mean that the Supreme Court of India has appreciated the right to “private life”.

In the year 2017, when the debate between privacy and security was going on, Ravi Shankar Prasad, Minister of Law & Justice and Electronics & Information Technology said that the Government of India should ensure the security of every citizen’s data that is linked with the Aadhar Card; It is a great initiative and shouldn’t be disrupted due to lack of security. Owing to India’s not so strong hold over internet and internet technology, the data has a higher risk of being leaked or misused. The government should, however, keep in mind that Aadhar increases its responsibility towards every citizen’s life, and should take adequate measures regarding data security. The Aadhar Act was enacted bearing this thought, and very specifically states that citizen’s data cannot be revealed for any unscrupulous activity. It will only be released in case of national security and the highest shield of protection is given to all information.

Recently, it had become mandatory to link Aadhar with all our personal accounts, including bank accounts and other accounts related to monetary transactions. People using payment apps like Paytm, Mobikwik, etc and cab services app like Ola, Uber, etc, were also required to link their accounts with Aadhar to ease online transactions. This guarantees that a person’s account cannot be used by any random person as. Slowly, everything is being planned to be linked with the Aadhar system, even driving licenses and online shopping sites. Linking driving licenses and motor vehicles with Aadhar will facilitate the system of tracking a drunken driver. Telecom companies have already been almost successful in linking mobile numbers to one’s Aadhar card. Pragmatic realities of digital age should be respected as the Government is trying to encourage digital transaction.

Privacy and Security can never be on the same scale in terms of maintaining both. The Indian law system can rather try to strengthen our privacy laws instead of debating on the topic whether privacy is important or security holds a greater place. This is a debate where both privacy and security hold strong points to get dominated by each other. Both are equally important as per the Indian Constitution and the Indian government is still struggling as to which should be given more importance. The Aadhar system should be implemented on a wider scale, but on the other hand, the Indian population should also be assured of their privacy and security of the data by implementing strict laws.

[1]Amit Anand Choudhary vs. Dhananjay Mahapatra

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