Privacy and Surveillance Law in India – Lok Sabha TV (click for video)

On 20 August 2014, Paranjoy Guha Thakurta spoke to me about privacy and surveillance law in India on Lok Sabha Television (LS TV). The Lok Sabha is the lower house of India’s parliament, and LS TV is the state parliamentary broadcaster. The discussion covered constructions of privacy norms, defences to privacy, the Aadhar card scheme – India’s biometric identification project, telephone and Internet surveillance, wiretaps, the identity of rape survivors, DNA collection for family disputes, ‘sting’ journalism, the harm principle, and free speech.

Why Ratan Tata is wrong about privacy: Part I – background, facts, and issues

[Abstract] The Supreme Court of India will soon deliver its judgment in the case of Ratan Tata v. Union of India that examines important issues of free speech and privacy. The case deals with the interception of telephone conversations over several years, the ‘leak’ of those confidential telephone conversations to reveal large-scale impropriety and corroboratory evidence of wholesale corruption, and the publishing of such information by the press. In these series of posts, I will examine: (a) the free speech right of the press to publish confidential information in the larger public interest; (b) the right of the public to know of corrupt and illegal activities versus the duty of confidentiality and official secrecy; and, (c) the breach of the statutory or tortious duty of confidentiality in respect of taped conversations. This first post looks at the background, facts of the case, and legal issues.

Privacy cases under the Information Technology Act in Maharashtra

[Description] Under the Information Technology Act, 2000, State Governments are required to appoint Adjudicating Officers to handle certain types of disputes, and some of these powers bear upon the issue of privacy in electronic communications and of electronic records. One such Adjudicating Officer in the State of Maharashtra has deftly adjudicated disputes to successfully negotiate and uphold the right to privacy. This post examines three of his cases, which deal with privacy rights in emails and chat transcripts, and in certain financial information such as bank statements and credit card data.

National Roundtable – Privacy and Surveillance in India (click for video)

This is a brief introduction to the law of privacy and communications surveillance in India, at a National Roundtable on Privacy and Surveillance at the India International Centre in New Delhi on 4th July 2014. The Roundtable was convened to discuss proposals to reform existing laws relating to the interception of communications in India. Current […]

India’s ‘Anti-conversion’ Laws, the ‘Right to Propagate’, and the Mainstreaming of Chauvinism

[Abstract] With the Gujarat High Court due to decide on Gujarat’s ‘anti-conversion’ law, the issue of conversions appears poised to re-enter the national agenda. It is being accompanied by vituperative public speech questioning the basis of India’s diversity and minorities. The ‘right to propagate’ religion has had a troubled career. There were voices in the Constituent Assembly which opposed it and imposed regulatory conditions upon it. After Independence, there have been two waves of anti-conversion laws; the first wave in the 1960s culminated in the landmark Stanislaus decision which treated conversions as a matter of public disorder, thereby legitimising the claim that minorities cause disharmony. In the second wave in the 2000s, conversions have been more heavily policed. When the Supreme Court examines the Gujarat statute, it will be a historic opportunity to overturn the Stanislaus decision and return pluralism and inclusiveness to the national imagination.