Industrialist Ratan Tata has the capacity to challenge a breach of his privacy in the Supreme Court. But what about the nearly 60 crore Indian residents who don’t know what will become of the biometric data being collected by UIDAI?
The leak of the Niira Radia tapes in India and thousands of US classified documents on WikiLeaks, has stirred up again the debate on privacy. Earlier this week, Tata group chairman Ratan Tata petitioned the Supreme Court to order the government to restrict the use of conversations contained in the tapes, on the grounds that making them public was a breach of his privacy. The WikiLeaks disclosures have exposed many decisions and processes in the US government that have become a serious embarrassment for its leaders. Some of these leaders are talking about punishing those responsible for the leaks.
It’s all well for such influential business and political figures to argue in defence of their privacy. But do these standards apply to the common citizen anywhere, and more specifically in India?
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This question about privacy for the rich has come up recently in other contexts in the U.S., including in discussions of whether people should pay to have their online privacy protected (e.g., pay for do not track) and whether the poor who cannot afford a fence around their home might have fewer Fourth Amendment rights (cf, the rousing dissent by Chief Judge Kozinski in the Ninth Circuit).