A big win for privacy in India


India’s Supreme Court has ruled in a unanimous decision that privacy is a fundamental right under Article 21 of India’s constitution. This is a landmark decision for India, and it was decided by a full bench of nine judges.

The decision comes at a time when India’s national biometric ID program, Aadhaar, has been deeply criticized for its lack of fundamental privacy protections. Since 2010, the program has moved from from voluntary to mandatory, and has profoundly expanded in uses. Aadhaar data has also been widely breached in a number of high- profile security lapses.

The Supreme Court privacy decision, resulting from an initial case against the invasiveness and overreach of the Aadhaar database of 1 billion Indians, will very likely set a changed course for Aadhaar. The court’s decision did not specifically test the constitutionality of the Aadhaar program; that will be the next step in the legal process as a five-judge Supreme Court bench sits to test the constitutionality of the Aadhaar program against what is now a cornerstone precedent of a right to privacy in India.

WPF has written about the permutations of this Supreme Court case, and Aadhaar, extensively. Next week we are releasing a substantial scholarly research paper on Aadhaar and privacy.

Additional Reading:

Full text of decision: http://m.hindustantimes.com/india-news/supreme-court-rules-privacy-is-fundamental-right-here-s-full-text-of-the-judgment/story-Wheiu7B8nbgbqtJYT1KzkO.html

Economic Times http://m.economictimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/supreme-court-rules-right-to-privacy-as-fundamental-right/articleshow/60203260.cms

Background on earlier interim decision of Supreme Court in this case: ( links to full text of interim decision)


Early concerns about Aadhaar, Foreign Policy Magazine: