Centre for Internet & Society

Talking at the ongoing India Today Conclave Next 2017, MP Rajeev Chandrashekhar said that Aadhaar was rushed and foisted on the country by authorities that fail to first create a proper ecosystem. Chandrashekhar gave his comments at a keynote titled Privacy -- The Fundamental Right for the Digital Citizen.

The article by Priya Pathak was published by India Today on November 8, 2017.

Chandrashekhar, who has been vocal on the issues like data protection, privacy and net neutrality, said that the government should have created a proper ecosystem for Aadhaar by bringing norms and laws around data protection and privacy before asking people to sign up for the unique ID.

The MP talked about India's journey from being a largest unconnected world to becoming the largest connected world. But Chandrashekhar criticised the "flawed" Aadhaar and said that it was a classic example of how a government system would push for technology in governance without addressing key bits of the ecosystem around the citizen and the consumer.

"If that (Aadhaar) wasn't enough, the IT act and section 66A and its language and its vagueness and its potential for misuse was another example of the faults of a bureaucracy or a political system trying to legislate or create solutions in the digital world, " he said.

At the same time, he lauded the recent Supreme Court order that held all Indians had fundamental right to privacy. "The latest finding of Supreme Court of Privacy as fundamental right is a big deal and it will alter number of things going forward," he said. He added that there should be more debate and discussion on data privacy as there is an attempt to characterise data privacy as some of kind of elitist issue in India which it's not.

Privacy, especially for the digital world, currently is one of the most debated topics in India. The country in the past few years has seen a number of instances where a government or a private entity has knowingly or unknowingly compromised the data of its users. Recently a study published by Centre for Internet and Society, a Bengaluru-based organisation, revealed that private data of more 130 million Aadhaar card holders were leaked from four government websites.

The Supreme Court in August this year declared privacy as a fundamental right. A nine-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice J S Khehar has declared that "right to privacy is an intrinsic part of Right to Life and Personal Liberty under Article 21 and entire Part III of the Constitution".

The move has been praised by many including Rajeev Chadrashekhar who has said that it is a big welcome step. "It is clear that Aadhaar and all other legislations existing and proposed will have to meet the test of privacy being a fundamental right," he recently said.