Trinamool Rajya Sabha MP Derek O’Brien tells The Indian Express why his party is fighting for issues such as basic privacy rights, and the dangers of unprotected data:
What was your zero hour question about?
My zero hour was about data protection and privacy. Last week, UIDAI’s helpline number popped up on hundreds of thousands of mobile phones.
Google has already given a clarification on this. What do you want the government to do?
Our data is not protected — (that is) dangerous. IRCTC (a subsidiary of Railways which handles catering, tourism and online ticketing) has a data base of 1 crore. That database is not protected. My wife, who lives in the US, is getting emails from the Prime Minister! Where did they get her (email) address?
The government had plans to set up a social media hub.
That is another issue for which Trinamool MLA Mohua Moitra had gone to court as an ordinary citizen. And she won. They were trying to remove all criticism of Aadhaar.
Some say privacy is an elite issue with no resonance on the ground.
This is not an issue of (only) the elite – it is something that affects the poor, the deprived, senior citizens, the marginalised. Recently, farm loans were being advertised with the line, ‘come with your Aadhaar to apply for loan’, even though the matter is in Supreme Court.
Your party has raised the Aadhaar issue many times in Parliament.
Our party welcomes technology. We took the lead in stopping FreeBasics to enter India. But that does not mean we will surrender basic rights of privacy and, on another note, make life more difficult for the marginalised.