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Right to Privacy: ‘Verdict ensures everyone is born and dies with this right’

"This historic, unanimous judgment was triggered by the preposterous claim by the government that the “right to privacy” was not a fundamental right."

Written by Seema Chishti | Updated: August 26, 2017 5:01 pm
right to privacy, aadhaar, right to privacy verdict, privacy is a right, privacy supreme court verdicy, privacy petitioners, right to privacy news, what is right to privacy, indian express news Right to privacy: Six citizens whose petitions challenged Aadhaar

The Indian Express speaks to some of the citizens whose petitions challenging Aadhaar led to Supreme Court examining the right to privacy and ruling it is a fundamental one

Kalyani Menon-Sen, Gurgaon

Activist

right to privacy, aadhaar, right to privacy verdict, privacy is a right, kalyani menon sen, right to privacy petitioner Kalyani Menon-Sen

‘Because I don’t reveal, how can you deny me access to my own bank account?’

“For me it was a case of ensuring that nobody vulnerable, whether old, a child or disabled, is denied welfare benefits, because of a technology fetish and the state’s desire to intrude into my privacy. We cited lots of data to show where technology was not working, and large parts of the population were vulnerable to losing benefits. The arguments of government that coercing everyone to reveal date would “reduce leakages” and ensure “100% access” are both [expletive]. There is such a high failure rate on the ground. The government is an arm of the state, whose duty is to protect the Constitution and ensure this right. Because I don’t reveal everything, how can you deny me access to my own hard-earned money, my own bank account? So the recognition of the right to privacy as an intrinsic and inviolable right is brilliant. The government arguing that only the rich need the right to privacy and that it is a luxury is so wrong. This judgment now ensures that each citizen is born with this right, and it is there till his/her life ends.

Bezwada Wilson, Delhi

Magsaysay Award winner & head, Safai Karamchari Aandolan

right to privacy, aadhaar, right to privacy verdict, privacy is a right, bezwada wilson, right to privacy petitioner Bezwada Wilson

‘To reveal identity or not to do so is my choice’

“For me, working with Safari Karamcharis, I know that we regard the right to privacy to reveal or not to reveal identity as central to who we are. It is my choice. The state cannot use this information in its hand and own it, using it when and how it wants to. No one can enter my privacy. On the one hand, you say end the caste system; on the other hand, you have devices saying ‘no privacy’ when you use identity information to brand and typecast me. I must have a choice not to reveal it. Humans are not toilets or a car, cannot be reduced to just one number. Humans are citizens and must enjoy full sovereignty. If citizens are not sovereign, how can the country be sovereign? “My deepest concern is this cleavage between citizen and the state, this split between the two. In a modern democracy, we must see ourselves as one. But now, the state is coercing — ‘have to’ do this or that. This worries me.”

Nikhil De, Rajasthan

Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan

right to privacy, aadhaar, right to privacy verdict, privacy is a right, nikhil dey, right to privacy petitioner Nikhil De

‘Govt wanted unbridled powers to collect, use data’

This historic, unanimous judgment was triggered by the preposterous claim by the government that the “right to privacy” was not a fundamental right. This claim was made and used because the government wanted to claim unbridled powers to collect and use data for its Aadhaar project. Our work with the poor has shown its mandatory use has led to massive exclusions of the poor and vulnerable. We hope this chapter of enormous distress, caused by coercive state requirements of authentication, will come to an end. There are far greater implications on the commercial and surveillance use to which data can be put. Many parts of this judgment will become part of interpretation in subsequent cases, but after this judgment establishing the fundamental right to privacy, the state cannot gather mass data and information through coercive means, or enable the use of citizens data for purposes of mass surveillance or commerce. Mandatory Aadhaar should come to an end.

Sudhir Vombatkere, Mysuru

Retired major general, Army

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‘If they had their way, India would have turned into a surveillance state’

“For me, it is personal. The judgment affirms our Constitution and fundamental rights. I have had great respect for both as a child, and an intimate connection. My father, V G Row [vs State of Madras], won in 1952 when the Supreme Court affirmed the right to association and expression. My father was detained for his Society for People’s Education, a forum for educating people. The court upheld his right and reversed his incarceration. If he had been jailed — I was just 10-11 — my life would have been different. “The government made truly ludicrous arguments. The A-G said we don’t have rights to bodily privacy. If they had their way, India would have turned into a surveillance state. The court has unanimously upheld this right as fundamental. This is what B R Ambedkar meant when he said Indian citizens within We the People need dignity, freedom and liberty. This has now come into its own, finally. “This judgment has implications for India and the world. The Supreme Court has made international history.”

Shantha Sinha, Hyderabad

Former head, National Commission for Protection of Child Rights

right to privacy, aadhaar, right to privacy verdict, privacy is a right, Shantha Sinha, right to privacy petitioner Shantha Sinha

‘Safeguard against state invasion of self-hood’

“The right to privacy is of each Indian. The Supreme Court declaring this as a fundamental right, integral to life and liberty is historic. It provides safeguards against state invasion of self-hood and risks thereof. “It strengthens our democracy. It is not only of the rich but all citizens can claim this right and also to get entitlements.”

Dr Anupam Saraph, Pune

Rashtriya Chetna Manch

right to privacy, aadhaar, right to privacy verdict, privacy is a right, Anupam Saraph, right to privacy petitioner Anupam Saraph

‘It will help us be more respectful society’

“Respect for others is enshrined in a society that protects privacy as a fundamental right. Indians can be proud that this respect has been upheld by the highest court. I am sure this should help all of us with the cause to build a culture that will value dignity, liberty, justice and equality. It will help us be a society that is more humane and respectful.

“I became a petitioner as Aadhaar has removed identification and consent from business processes. It has removed liability and traceability of fraud from business processes. Aadhaar has removed identification and consent from business processes and replaced it with an outsourced process it calls authentication. It has outsourced authentication and replaced responsible parties with those without legal liability or responsibility. This not only results in legal and real confusion but enables crime and corruption. It destroys business processes, governance and national security.

“Aadhaar is a project that doesn’t understand governance or business processes. It is merely technology in search of applications and business. It neither adds any value nor serves any useful purpose to the user of a business processes. That is why it has had to be coercive and exclusionary.”

“Despite serious concerns and consistent opposition from RBI that Aadhaar serves no use for banking and in fact destroys banking, Aadhaar is being forced on all bank customers. Aadhaar-enabled payment systems are run by a non-government company and cause the money trail to be destroyed. Anyone who wants to protect the country and its people from all of this would challenge the use of Aadhaar. Anyone who believes in the promise of the Preamble would oppose Aadhaar. Anyone wishing to ensure that India is not digitally colonised by private interests driving Aadhaar would oppose it.”

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  1. R
    Reader
    Oct 14, 2017 at 6:39 pm
    A centralized and inter-linked biometric database like Aadhaar will lead to profiling and self-censorship, endangering freedom. Personal data gathered under the Aadhaar program is prone to misuse and surveillance. Aadhaar project has created a vulnerability to identi-ty fraud, even identi-ty theft. Easy harvesting of biometrics traits and publicly-available Aadhaar numbers increase the risk of impersonation, especially online and banking fraud. Centralized databases can be hacked. Biometrics can be cloned, copied and reused. Thus, BIOMETRICS CAN BE FAKED. High-resolution cameras can capture your fingerprints and iris information from a distance. Every eye hospital will have iris images of its patients. So another person can clone your fingerprints and iris images without your knowledge, and the same can be used for authentication. If the Aadhaar scheme is NOT STOPPED by the Supreme Court, the biometric features of Indians will soon be cloned, misused, and even traded.
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    1. R
      Reader
      Oct 14, 2017 at 6:38 pm
      UK’s Biometric ID Database was dismantled. Why the United Kingdom's biometrics-linked National Identi-ty Card project to create a centralized register of sensitive information about residents similar to Aadhaar was scrapped in 2010?? The reasons were the massive threat posed to the privacy of people, the possibility of a surveillance state, the dangers of maintaining such a huge centralized repository of personal information, and the purposes it could be used for, and the dangers of such a centralized database being hacked. The other reasons were the unreliability of such a large-scale biometric verification processes, and the ethics of using biometric identification.
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      1. R
        Reader
        Oct 14, 2017 at 6:38 pm
        The US Social Security Number (SSN) card has NO BIOMETRIC DETAILS, no photograph, no physical description and no birth date. All it does is confirm that a particular number has been issued to a particular name. Instead, a driving license or state ID card is used as an identification for adults. The US government DOES NOT collect the biometric details of its own citizens for the purpose of issuing Social Security Number. The US collects the fingerprints of only those citizens who are involved in any criminal activity (it has nothing to do with SSN), and the citizens of other countries who come to the US.
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          Ramesh Nittoor
          Aug 25, 2017 at 6:13 am
          Interesting views and all are right from their perspectives. However, let us not throw the baby with the bathwater! What the Privacy as Fundamental right has done is to given the ownership of Aadhaar iden y to the individual. State creates the Aadhaar number but it is owned by individual alone. State surely will be able to use it for a specific set of legal purposes, but not indiscriminately, nor can private and government business setups. The ins utionalization of individual, with 100 percent ownership right is now complete. The consequence of this is digital economy shall be greatly strengthened, for trust relationship can be established reliably and at much lower cost. Economic behavior can be tracked and assessed to lend efficiently at much lower costs, thereby creating enormous purchasing power. All these now need to be done with full legal sa uard, and it is this empowering of individual and making Aadhaar of even greater import, is what we need to celebrate.
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            Ramesh Nittoor
            Aug 25, 2017 at 6:21 am
            Hon Finance Minister has said earlier said, that policy reforms are being to make Indian economy acquire characteristics of developed nation. This SC judgement is a giant step in that direction. The negative perception regarding Aadhaar itself is unwarranted. While middle class shall be a great beneficiary of these economic change, particularly the young who can bank their future incomes. Poor sections, who unfortunately have to pay usurious interest rates to borrow privately at present, hopefully shall also be a major beneficiary of this judgment.
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              Ramesh Nittoor
              Aug 25, 2017 at 6:33 am
              Cheque, Credit card etc bind individual to an ins ution. Trust relations is imparted via the ins ution only, hence business must be transacted via that ins ution only. Aadhaar sets the individual free to transact on the basis of his Aadhaar Id alone, thereby giving astounding flexibility to transact with any intermediary of his choice, and do so even dynamically. India has now the legal backbone for new economy. Diverse financial instruments are likely to proliferate in the decades ahead.
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            ak dev
            Aug 25, 2017 at 5:51 am
            The whole of India is celebrating the SC judgment on right to privacy and in West Bengal a secular CM is cutting the right to religious freedom of Hindus into pieces. Waha re sicularists!
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              ak dev
              Aug 25, 2017 at 5:53 am
              The west Bengal CM is the repeat offender for restricting Hindus from their religious rights. She has tried to appease Muslims by indulging the same par ion act last years also.
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                ak dev
                Aug 25, 2017 at 5:55 am
                WB government has violated the oath twice. It's a fit case for President's rule in West Bengal.
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                1. A
                  ak dev
                  Aug 25, 2017 at 6:03 am
                  Secular press is mum, award wapsi gang in silent and not in my name jokers have gone missing on this blatant violation of religious rights of Hindus. It looks these gangs work only for particular interest group in India.
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                    ak dev
                    Aug 25, 2017 at 6:05 am
                    I appeal to all Hindus to unitedly oppose Mamata Begam for her part ition politics in Bengal.
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