Centre for Internet & Society

Shweta Mohandas was a panelist at the Symposium on Data Privacy and Citizen's Rights on September 9, 2018. The Symposium was organised by the Tech Law Forum of NALSAR University of Law, Hyderabad.

Concept Note

The National Academy of Legal Studies and Research (NALSAR) University of Law, Hyderabad is organising a Symposium on DATA PRIVACY AND CITIZEN’S RIGHTS to provide multiple stakeholders one platform to discuss and deliberate on the BN Srikrishna Committee Report and Draft Bill.  

The Committee headed by Retd. Justice BN Srikrishna released its Report and Draft Bill on the 27th of July, 2018. It comes at a time when there is increasing discussion about the individual privacy and surveillance by both private organisations and state authorities. Especially in light of the 9-judge Puttaswamy judgment affirming the Fundamental Right to Privacy, there was a need to concretise the right in the form of a statute. The Bill proposes an elaborate data protection framework by utilising concepts such as anonymisation, pseudonymisation, data localisation, guardian data fiduciary, among others. While the Bill has been lauded for providing a data protection framework largely similar to the one proposed by civil society, there are several areas of concern with the Bill such as the amendments suggested to the RTI Act, the impact of the Bill on Free Speech and the lack of substantial provisions regarding surveillance. There has been further criticism that the discussions regarding these issues have been conducted in silos, with little to no dialogue taking place between the various stakeholders and experts in the field.  

We believe that there is a need to provide a common forum for these stakeholders to interact with each other in providing suggestions that are representative in nature and nuanced in their expression.


Privacy and Free Speech This interaction aims to examine the juxtaposition of the constitutional right to free speech and the now constitutionally affirmed right to privacy. Will a new data protection law impact the publication of leaked documents or sting operations like the Radia tapes or Tehelka’s ‘Operation Westend’? If so, how can journalists mitigate the risk of getting sued for breach of privacy?  While the jurisprudence concerning the right to privacy is in its most nascent state, it becomes important for us to explore its contours in light of already established constitutional guarantees.   

Right to Information and Right to Privacy  How does the right to privacy impact the right to information? The guarantee of these two rights arise from diametrically opposite ideologies, in that privacy aims to shield from the public domain information and data concerning individuals and institutions while the right to information aims to promote transparency and disclosure of information held by the state. However, the question remains, is the existence of these two rights necessarily mutually exclusive? Will a new data protection law make it difficult to promote transparency under the Right to Information Act? Is there is a possibility of a clash between the Information Commissions and the proposed Data Protection Authority? This panel would analyze the co-existence and competitive nature of these two rights in the context of the Indian legal space.  

Surveillance -  As we move towards a form of governance that is increasingly capable of surveilling individual movements and actions, it becomes extremely necessary for us to understand the nature of surveillance. Can data privacy be compromised for surveillance that may be necessary for increased safety in our physical and virtual living spaces? Are there any provisions that protects data in cases of it becoming exploitable? What is the interaction of international statutes (like ICCPR) and the latest Indian statute in terms of its recognition of necessity of surveillance in contrast to the necessity of protection of data.