Aadhaar vs WhatsApp: How privacy changes meaning for government in different cases

While Centre has argued in favour of privacy in the WhatsApp policy case, it has maintained that right to privacy is not a fundamental right but a common law right vis-a-vis the Aadhaar case.

The Centre's stand on privacy in the WhatsApp case is against its argument in the Aadhaar case. Photo for representation: Reuters.
The Centre’s stand on privacy in the WhatsApp case is against its argument in the Aadhaar case. Photo for representation: Reuters.

The Supreme Court will hear the Centre’s argument on the right to privacy debate in the Aadhaar case on Tuesday.

In the Aadhaar case, the Centre has maintained that right to privacy is not a fundamental right but a common law right, and only unauthorised intrusion into one’s privacy is protected under Article 21 of the Constitution.

This line of argument is in contrast to the government’s stand in favour of privacy before the Supreme Court in the WhatsApp privacy policy case.

 In a hearing on the WhatsApp privacy case on Friday, the Centre told the Supreme Court that data belonging to an individual is an extension of one’s personality that resides in Article 21 of the Constitution.

CENTRE ARGUES FOR PRIVACY IN WHATSAPP POLICY CASE

The Centre told the Supreme Court that data belonging to an individual was intimate and an extension of his or her personality.

“Data is an extension of my personality, footsteps of my life and intimate to me and resides in Article 21. Anything that can impinge on data, that is my own, impinges on my right,” said Additional Solicitor General P S Narasimha.

“If data is goods (product) and if it is, then in whom does the proprietary rights vest. Then how can I park it–either by contract or by commercial or without commercial consideration?” ASG Narasimha told the Supreme Court.

A five-judge constitution bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra is hearing the plea challenging WhatsApp privacy policy on the ground of violating right to privacy and allegedly sharing data with Facebook, which bought the messaging app in 2014.

The Centre also told the Supreme Court that there was a need to devise a mechanism to regulate online message service platforms.

CENTRE SAYS OTHERWISE IN RIGHT TO PRIVACY DEBATE

In contrast, the Centre has said that the petitions challenging the validity of the Aadhaar scheme over violation of right to privacy cannot be entertained under Article 21.

The Centre, in written submission to the court, said that only unauthorised intrusions into one’s privacy are protected under Article 21 of the Constitution.

In its submission, the Centre has fallen back on two previous verdicts in the M P Sharma case in 1954 and the Kharak Singh case in 1963 which did not recognise right to privacy as a fundamental right.

A nine-judge Constitution bench, comprising Chief Justice J S Khehar, is hearing the right to privacy debate, while a smaller bench will subsequently hear the petitions challenging the Aadhaar scheme.

In the court, petitioners have argued for a broader definition of privacy with senior counsel Gopal Subramanium saying that fundamental ideas of liberty and freedom cannot exist without right to privacy.

On Tuesday, Centre will present its arguments in the Supreme Court on the right to privacy case.

Source :- http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/privacy-vs-privacy-for-centre-in-supreme-court-aadhaar-whatsapp-cases/1/1009532.html

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