In this age of big data, discussions about privacy are intertwined with the use of technology and the data deluge. Though big data possesses enormous value for driving innovation and contributing to productivity and efficiency, privacy concerns have gained significance in the dialogue around regulated use of data and the means by which individual privacy might be compromised through means such as surveillance, or protected. The tremendous opportunities big data creates in varied sectors ranges from financial technology, governance, education, health, welfare schemes, smart cities to name a few.
With the UID (“Aadhaar”) project re-animating the Right to Privacy debate in India, and the financial technology ecosystem growing rapidly, striking a balance between benefits of big data and privacy concerns is a critical policy question that demands public dialogue and research to inform an evidence based decision.
Also, with the advent of potential big data initiatives like the ambitious Smart Cities Mission under the Digital India Scheme, which would rely on harvesting large data sets and the use of analytics in city subsystems to make public utilities and services efficient, the tasks of ensuring data security on one hand and protecting individual privacy on the other become harder.
As key privacy principles are at loggerheads with big data activities, it is important to consider privacy as an embedded component in the processes, systems and projects, rather than being considered as an afterthought. These examples highlight the current state of discourse around data protection and privacy in India and the shapes they are likely to take in near future.
This workshop aims to build a dialogue around some of the key government-led big data initiatives in India and elsewhere that are contributing significant new challenges and concerns to the ongoing debates on the right to privacy.