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Better Understanding of the Idea of Privacy Sought

by Prasad Krishna last modified Aug 08, 2011 07:40 AM
Understanding the ways in which an individual's privacy is violated will help provide a better definition of privacy in India. At a public conference called ‘Privacy Matters' held at the Madras Institute of Development Studies (MIDS) here on Saturday, speakers underscored the need for discussions surrounding the privacy bill.
Better Understanding of the Idea of Privacy Sought

(From left): Nirmala Desikan, Founder Trustee of Consumer Association of India, Chennai; Usha Ramanathan, civil rights advocate; Sashi Kumar, Chairman, Media Development Foundation; Santhosh Babu, Secretary, Information Technology department, Government o

Prashant Iyengar from Privacy India said, "In India, we do not have a set view on privacy. There is a lot of articulation around privacy in law, yet we do not have an omnibus concept." He stressed the importance of bringing about discussions around the adequacy of safeguards. 

Post 26/11 terror attacks, the country has seen an enhancement of electronic surveillance and the proliferation of databases that collect information from individuals, said Santhosh Babu, Secretary, Information Technology Department. 

"The problem arises when these databases are misused for political or other reasons. In a legal framework, we have to figure out what information can be given out, what cannot and what can be misused," he said. He stressed the importance of databases going through a software development lifecycle to make them more secure.

Speaking from a media practitioner's perspective, Sashi Kumar, Chairman, Media Development Foundation, said it is the business of the media to conduct sting operations especially when people in power are obfuscating information. “Sting operations are legitimate when larger public good is at stake. We have to be aware of this when we discuss the privacy bill. It should not protect people in power and keep exposure at bay,” he said. He also stressed that privacy is closely linked with the dignity of the person. R. Ramamurthy, Chairman, Cyber Society of India said, “The definition of privacy varies from what it was twenty years ago to what it is today. A lot has changed since the internet came to India.” The statutes that govern all forms of communication in India should be revamped, he said. Discussions around privacy in relation to telecommunications, financial transactions, consumer rights and basic rights followed. The conference was a collaborative effort between Privacy India, Citizen Consumer and Civic Action Group, Chennai and MIDS. 

A staff reporter from the Hindu covered the event. The original can be read here

Filed under:
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