The Public Has Every Right To Know What’s Going On In The Hearings On Citizen’s Privacy

Posted by Internet Freedom Foundation in Human Rights
April 18, 2018

On April 17, the Internet Freedom Foundation, wrote a letter to the Parliament’s Standing Committee on Information Technology, chaired by Shri Anurag Thakur and composed of Members of Parliament from both houses, on the hearings set up by it on the subject of ‘Citizen’s Data Security and Privacy’. In this letter, IFF has reiterated the ask it initially made on April 5 requesting that the Standing Committee of IT open up its inquiry on citizen’s data security and privacy to public comments from Indian citizens and invite representatives of public interest groups and other experts to its hearings in addition to it hearing officials from the Ministry of Electronics and IT.

IFF has further said that in addition to opening up its inquiry to public comments and testimony from non-governmental experts, the Committee must ask more detailed questions on issues pertaining to privacy protection, enforcement, data breach, protection of election data, and the proceedings of the Expert Committee on Data Protection established by the Ministry of Electronics and IT.

“The Justice Srikrishna Committee, since its inception has been beset with many controversies, including around its composition which currently composes of many votaries of the current systems in place which are antithetical to any meaningful citizen-centric data protection law. Despite this Ministry officials have been silent on the concerns being raised about along with criticisms on an opaque process of public consultation where even basic procedures like publishing the comments received have not been followed,” said Rachita Taneja, co-founder, IFF. The Standing Committee must use these hearings as an opportunity to probe the Ministry on these concerns.

IFF submitted a list of pointed questions which are reflective of the contemporary development on data privacy and security including whether citizens can choose to withdraw their consent from schemes like Aadhaar and still not be deprived of welfare schemes; whether review of data protection and privacy policy of companies like Facebook and Whatsapp have been undertaken; whether steps are being taken to prevent abuse of rights of citizens when intelligence gathering functions like surveillance and interception are undertaken, to mention a few. The Standing Committee was also requested to seek written responses from Ministry officials which can become part of public records.

Link to our letter dated April 17, 2018 (link).

Link to our letter dated April 5, 2018 (link).

Note: This post was first published here