Speaking at a CII conference on financial inclusion, Union Law and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said that while data privacy is a must, it should not be at the cost of innovation. He cited the Supreme Court ruling to stress that privacy of data should not kill innovation. Here are some of the remarks he made:

On Data Privacy

  • Privacy cannot be the shield of the corrupt, terrorist and criminals.
  • We must have a healthy balance between data availability, data utility, data innovation and data privacy.
  • The digital world is not the physical world and some movement of data is needed. But it is equally important to give due respect to sensitive data and inquest of data sovereignty.

On Aadhaar

  • Repeating his stunt from September last year, Prasad waved his Aadhaar card yet again, as the audience clapped. “What does it (Aadhaar Card) contain?” he asked to answer his own question. “My photograph, my name and my permanent Patna address. What it does not contain? My medical record, my financial record,  my educational record, my sexual preferences, my matrimonial dispute – all by which I can be profiled.”
  • Aadhaar works on a federated principle. “Suppose I go to a bank, he takes my Aadhaar number… Aadhaar system does not know what purpose for which bank is taking the Aadhaar number of Mr Prasad. Aadhaar system only says this number belongs to Mr Prasad because his biometrics confirms that,” he said.
  • Biometric data on Aadhaar is kept in safe and secure conditions in an encrypted form, and the encryption is so strong that even for a billionth of a second it cannot be breached.
  • He said that the Aadhaar Act is so tough that even he could be prosecuted (despite being the IT and Law minister of India) if he disclosed the biometrics to unauthorised people. “It (data sharing) can only happen in the case of compelling national security, that too after the affirmation of a committee headed by the Cabinet secretary”, he added.

On Digital and financial inclusion

  • Indians have a propensity for the use of technology.
  • “Around 55% of bank accounts worldwide have been opened in India through the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana,” Prasad said.
  • In the judiciary, 17,000 district courts and all the high courts have become digital.
  • The government has created an ecosystem and an enabling environment by relaxing laws, easing procedures and removing barriers to foster growth which in turn will facilitate financial inclusion and social empowerment.

The government is committed to foster inclusion through digitisation as a medium. Instruments such as Mudra loan, Jan Dhan, JAM trinity and Aadhaar have been transformational in paving the way for financial inclusion.

Draft Data Protection Bill so far

The IT Ministry had invited comments on the Srikrishna committee’s Data Protection bill which was released on July 27, 2018. It received more than 400 responses from companies, industry bodies and government departments on the draft Personal Data Protection bill.  While the list of submissions were not made public by the ministry, they can be read on MediaNama.

Please note: MediaNama is also hosting discussions on the Privacy and Security of IoT in Delhi on November 15th, 2018. Click here to apply to attend.