With the Supreme Court judgment terming right to privacy a fundamental right, the government will have to look at framing a new data protection law to control companies that have access to huge amount of personal data, experts have said. Senior advocate Sajan Poovayya told FE that with regard to large corporations which are information-driven, dealing with data, the government has to now look at a legislative framework to govern their conduct. Infosys co-founder Nandan Nilekani had recently warned that the consolidation of users’ data on a few digital and internet companies could put the country under a new model of colonisation. Questions mailed to Google and Facebook about the measures they are planning to take, in view of the Supreme Court judgment, were not answered till the time of going to press. However, IT trade body Nasscom said the judgment will boost India’s attractiveness as a safe destination for global outsourcing.
Nasscom president R Chandrashekhar said, “This landmark judgment will ensure that protection of citizen’s privacy is a cardinal principle in our growing digital economy. Besides, it will enhance citizens’ trust in digital services — a prerequisite for widespread digital adoption. The ruling also significantly boosts India’s attractiveness as a safe destination for global sourcing.” Advocate Poovayya, however, said firms like Google and Facebook need not worry about the order’s implication. “Even the US and the UK have some form of privacy/data protection laws. There will be harmonisation of legislation in India from a global perspective where Indian privacy laws would also be in tune with that in the UK and the US,” he said. Pranesh Prakash, policy director at Centre for Internet and Society, said, “The scope for horizontal application for the right to privacy has been kept open. It’s clear that right to privacy is not just something that can be held against the state, but also against the non-state entities. Users now have the right whether to give their consent or not, on personal data.” The judgment is likely to have an impact on the existing data management ecosystem, according to Ramesh Mamgain of data protection firm Commvault India. “The judgment is likely to have a deep impact on the existing data management ecosystem in the country. Several industries that deal with a large quantum of sensitive personal data as also government agencies will have to review their data strategy,” he said.