What Privacy Means: Building Relationships of Trust by Siddharth Sonkar

Category: Non-fiction
Rights: All rights available

Digital contact tracing, the use of drones to monitor lockdowns and mapping protesters through Facial and Gait Recognition have almost become the norm. The Puttaswamy judgment which was delivered recently conceptualises the right to privacy; however, it falls short of really engaging with what privacy means to us, in respect of contemporary concerns in India today. It has been almost three years since the privacy judgment and yet we do not have a data protection law. Does a people’s movement towards strengthening privacy help? Yes, it does; for Aarogya Setu’s open-source code was only released for greater transparency when Twitter was stormed by activists and the right questions were asked by the small but dedicated privacy-conscious citizenry. Strategic litigation by Vrinda Bhandari (e.g. in the Kerala High Court) has further shaped the perception of courts towards a more tangible realisation of the right.

The Hindi word for privacy is nijita. Most Indian languages, however, are bereft of language that adequately captures privacy. The cultural understanding of privacy is in sharp contrast with how we talk about it in courts. This creates a boundary between echo chambers of lawyers (who understand technology) and the larger audience respectively.

The author: Siddharth Sonkar