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Right to Privacy vis-a-vis Technology

In one of the most progressive decisions by the Supreme Court of India, right to privacy was declared as a fundamental right intrinsic to Article 21 of the Constitution i.e. right to life and liberty. The impact of the verdict on data privacy is prominent with proliferation in technology over the past few years.
Written by:
Shivi Gupta
Published on
24-Jul-18

In one of the most progressive decisions by the Supreme Court of India, right to privacy was declared as a fundamental right intrinsic to Article 21 of the Constitution i.e. the right to life and liberty. The impact of the verdict on data privacy is prominent with the proliferation of technology over the past few years. 

Technology is playing an imperative role in the practice of data collection, companies are engaged in. Primarily, the data already collected by the government agencies through the biometric system is in question. Biometric data comprises of fingerprints, photographs, etc.- the only required information to identify a person and track their activities. 

Our digital footprint is easily trackable by the government and private companies in an unimaginably easy manner. This digital footprint expands with more data through our interactions, updated location, online history, etc. and threatens the right to privacy by regulating our private information without our knowledge. 

Recently, Google confirmed that it can track live location within 400 m radius of the accurate location of all Android users through addresses of local masts or cell IDs. Google revealed that it was able to track the location of users even when the location service was disabled and the SIM card was not placed in the slot. 

The Android operating system incorporates a push notification that was requesting addresses of mobile phone masts. The location of all Android devices was received and updated with Google. This, in turn, becomes an extreme violation of the right to privacy as the live status of users was being shared involuntarily, with no intimation to the users.

Location is generally tracked by most of the mobile application companies that provide services for mapping, GPS, news and weather forecast, mobile app shopping, along with certain gaming apps like Pokemon Go, etc. 

Connecting this information to a person’s phone number is another controversy related to privacy issues of this biometric data. With people’s fingerprints connected to their mobile numbers, it is easier for these companies to exploit this information for mass surveillance. 

Another argument about the right to privacy amidst technological transmutation is the fact that websites and social media apps like WhatsApp, Facebook, etc. have immense access to the data users upload to their social media accounts. Data mining becomes easier than ever as these websites and apps have access to information pertaining to a person’s private communications, friends, likes, dislikes, places visited, etc.

When it comes to infringement of the fundamental right to privacy, the foremost question that arises is whether these private companies can be taken to court for any form of violation. Keeping this issue in mind, the Supreme Court has highlighted the need to enact uncompromising privacy laws in the country. 

 

As well as technology has increased people’s dependence on mobile phones, internet and other technologies. Majority of financial transactions take place through net banking and mobile banking apps provided by private financial technology businesses getting access to every sale and purchase. They have the access to information regarding when and where a payment is made by a person, making it easier for the companies to mine their required data.   The fundamental right to privacy is contingent to the colossal information already available and used by private players. Technological innovation brought by these private companies has surpassed the protection that the present law allows upholding this newly recognised fundamental right. This technological manipulation of information and lack of coherent laws on the matter are bound to make endorsing the right to privacy a difficult affair for the State. 

Under the Information Technology law, a user can file a complaint against a person or company for any cyber crime like data theft, cyber stalking, net banking frauds etc. With right to privacy as a fundamental rights, an action against its violation can be taken under Article 32 and 226 of the Indian Constitution. 

When it comes to protecting users' personal information on mobile phones and safeguarding the fundamental right to privacy, measures like device locks, disabling device location, remote data wiping in case of theft, denying location access to mobile application and so on can be taken by users on their own. Need legal help to report violation of right to privacy? Consult the best lawyers in India from MyAdvo! Email us at info@myadvo.in or call now at 9811782573.