A member of parliament, Rajeev Chandrasekhar, on Friday wrote a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi pitching for privacy rights for all Indians and urged him to proactively explore the possibility of a new Privacy Legislation or review the existing IT Act, Sec 43 A and other sections.
In the letter, the MP stated that that a multi-stakeholder consultation be initiated so that the views of various stakeholders, including security agencies, are taken into account while this legislation is being conceived.
Chandrashekar noted that while the NDA’s Aadhaar Bill significantly expanded the rights to privacy and protection of information, there was a need for a new overarching privacy legislation given that there are many other databases, like Jan Dhan Yojana, BPL, LPG etc. that are out of the purview of the Aadhaar Bill, but are significant parts of the subsidy delivery mechanism of the Government.
Here is the full letter:
Respected Prime Minister,
Sub: Privacy Rights for All Indians
At the outset, I thank and congratulate the Government for recognizing that privacy is a fundamental right – a significant departure from the position that the UPA Government had taken all these years.
While I welcome the significantly expanded rights to privacy and protection of information in the NDA’s new Aadhaar Bill, I had, during the debate in Parliament on this Bill, suggested that there is a need for an overarching privacy legislation – given that there are many other databases, like Jan Dhan Yojana, BPL, LPG etc. that are out of the purview of the Aadhaar Bill, but are significant parts of the subsidy delivery mechanism of the Government that also need to be covered under the Citizens’ Rights to Privacy and Protection of Information.
As you are aware, I have been consistently pursuing the need for recognition of Privacy as a fundamental right for several years, starting with the Aadhaar effort, during the UPA Government. I had raised the issue of privacy on several occasions with the UPA Government, and consequent to the lack of sensitivity and response, the matter of UID/privacy ended up being heard in front of the Constitutional Bench of the Hon’ble Supreme Court, where I am also an impleading petitioner.
You will agree that it is, therefore, ironic and amusing to read and hear about the belated awakening of the Congress party and the architects of Aadhaar, to this real issue of privacy and the need for protection of information.
As you are aware, I have spoken extensively about this in Parliament and written to you after the NDA Government was formed (copies of my letters and Parliamentary Question are enclosed herewith).
The Hon’ble Finance Minister was gracious enough to respond to me in Parliament, and with a promise that the Government would look into this need for privacy legislation after the Hon’ble Supreme Court’s decision. However, I would urge that the Government proactively explore the possibility of either a new Privacy legislation, or review and amend the existing IT Act, Section 43 A and other applicable sections at the earliest. I would also recommend that a multi-stakeholder consultation be initiated so that the views of various stakeholders, including security agencies, are taken into account while this legislation is being conceived and architected.