Former Aadhaar Chiarman Nandan Nilekani has urged the government to come up with a framework to protect the data of individuals using technology. The statement comes in the backdrop of an ongoing petition in the Supreme Court over right to privacy.
Earlier last week, the Central government had stated that privacy was a part of Right to Life under Article 21, but did not enjoy the status of a fundamental right. The debate on privacy as a fundamental right is a part of the larger debate on Aadhaar and if the scheme violates one's right to privacy.
According to a report in the Business Standard, Nilekani said: "Time is running out and India needs to take a strategic view on data colonisation, privacy and data dominance and how data is used for public good. It is a policy issue and not a technology issue that needs to be addressed soon."
Nilekani was speaking at the 6th C K Prahalad Memorial Lecture on Tuesday. He also said the Aadhaar system has not been breached yet but in future data security was going to be a big concern for the government. "On the security front, there has really been no 'hack' to the Aadhaar system. But people (hackers) have tried to get users to do an OTP and give their details," Nilekani was reported to have said.
Speaking on the recent development where TRAI accused Apple of engaging in data 'colonisation' practice in India and being 'anti-consumer' by not allowing customers to pass on details about pesky calls and unwanted messages to authorities as well as their mobile operators, Nilekani said: "Currently, there is nothing that a user knows regarding what is happening to their data and this information needs to be given back to people."
Last week, the Supreme Court observed that right to privacy cannot be absolute and the state may have powers to put reasonable curbs. It said: "We live in an age of big data and the state is entitled to regulate the data whether it is for the purpose of regulating crime, taxation or other activities. Right to privacy cannot be so absolute that it prevents the state from legislating or regulating it."
Currently, a nine-judge Constitution bench, headed by Chief Justice J S Khekar, is hearing the privacy issue. The bench comprises Justices J Chelameswar, S A Bobde, R K Agrawal, Rohinton Fali Nariman, Abhay Manohar Sapre, D Y Chandrachud, Sanjay Kishan Kaul and S Abdul Nazeer.