ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Data Protection as a Social Value

The recognition of the individual in K Puttaswamy v Union of India has both normative and policy implications for how we think about and design privacy protections. The emphasis on informed consent has resulted in policy prescriptions that view privacy as an economic value that is best served by market choices. Rethinking privacy as a social or collective paradigm would allow us to develop stronger principles to manage indiscriminate data collection and surveillance by state and non-state institutions.

On 24 August 2017, the Supreme Court of India in K Puttaswamy v Union of India (2017a) held the right to privacy to be a fundamental right. The Court’s clarification of the constitutionality of the right is significant, given that personal data is of strategic importance in the digital economy. In addition to commercial entities commoditising and monetising data, personal information is also increasingly collected by states for general governance.

Safeguarding privacy in a world that runs on the collection and trade of personal data requires defining privacy and contextualising its many dimensions for the 21st century. Though traditionally privacy claims can be traced to classical liberalism, privacy enjoys an abundance of meanings attached to it (Acharya 2015). Addressing the contention that privacy is an abstract construct that cannot be defined easily, the six separate opinions in the Puttaswamy judgment clarify several formulations of the right to privacy.

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Updated On : 27th Dec, 2017
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