Data Protection and Privacy

This is a guest blog by Brajendra.

The issue of data protection and privacy was in news recently when it came to light that Cambridge Analytical, a US based company had influenced the US Presidential election.  Data protection literally means the prevention of the misuse of personal data of any individual without his consent by any government or private agency. The issue is of concern because the proliferation of the internet has given various agencies access to large amount of personal data about people which can be misused. Legislation has not kept pace with the problems that this misuse can cause. The issue is being analyzed in this blog.

 

Understanding of Problem

Data protection is essentially a technical issue, whereas data privacy is a legal one. Data protection is about securing data against unauthorized access to prevent intrusion into one’s privacy caused by the collection, storage and dissemination of personal data. Invariably when an individual provides his personal information he/she is not taking an undertaking from the agency involved that the data will not be shared with others. We provide personal information to banks, mobile services providers and Aadhaar card preparation agencies and have no assurance that it will not be misused.

 

Legality and Challenges

 

India presently does not have any express legislation governing data protection or privacy. The relevant laws in India dealing with data protection are the Information Technology Act, 2000 and the (Indian) Contract Act, 1872. However these just deal with the issues relating to payment of compensation (Civil) and punishment (Criminal) in case of wrongful disclosure and misuse of personal data and violation of contractual terms in respect of personal data. The legislations are insufficient in the wake of present challenges of data protection and digital privacy.

 

Future?

In today’s ‘Information Age’, data is a powerful tool. If Trump, who is an embarrassment to Americans and a pain for the world, had not been elected then US and the world would have been much better off. If this election had got influenced by the misuse of data then we know how important data security is.

World should come together to evolve new regulations towards data protection and privacy. Countries must share technical know-how to upgrade data encryption technology globally. Addressing personal data handling requires mature data privacy practices worldwide.

Creation of legislation similar to the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR), which empowers citizens and residents to control their personal data is the need of the hour. Since information is not confined by land boundaries global cooperation is vital. India should immediately create legislation to ensure:

 

  • A written consent of customers is taken by any agency recording personal information regarding its usage.
  • Data protection must be mandated to prevent unauthorized access.

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