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‘Puttaswamy Secured the Idea that People Are Free in This Country’: Usha Ramanathan, Aakar Patel, Abhinav Sekhri at IFF’s Privacy Supreme

Activists Aakar Patel and Usha Ramanathan spoke at an IFF event, ‘Privacy Supreme’, bringing up privacy protection, state surveillance, more

‘Puttaswamy v Union of India [2017] was not just another Judgment on privacy. It was really about securing the idea that people are free in this country. That freedom is something we have to continue fighting for—no right is ever given [to the people],’ said Usha Ramanathan, human rights activist, scholar, and one of the first voices to sound the alarm on Aadhaar-related privacy issues a few years ago. Ramanathan was speaking at Privacy Supreme, an event organised by the Internet Freedom Foundation (IFF) in Bengaluru on Saturday. Sharing the stage with journalist and former head of Amnesty International India Aakar Patel, the discussion revolved around how the Right to Privacy has evolved in India five years after the landmark Supreme Court Judgment was issued on August 24th, 2017. ‘What was remarkable about Puttaswamy was that it linked privacy to the idea of living a life of dignity. That is actually what lies at the heart of living in a constitutional democracy,’ added moderator Abhinav Sekhri, a lawyer specialising in criminal law and procedure and Of-Counsel at IFF. Why it matters: Despite the promise that Puttaswamy offered half a decade ago, it can be difficult to remain optimistic about the Right to Privacy in India. Laws—both proposed and in force—routinely evade or dilute the Right. Breaches of millions of Indians' data are now routine, made worse in the absence of a data protection law. The nexus between powerful technologists and the Indian State appears to be both deepening and inescapable. However, through their hour-long discussion, Ramanathan, Patel, and Sekhri revisited the…

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