Privacy and The State

By: Devam Thapa  

The recent urge among governments across the world to map their citizens has been widely noted and vehemently opposed in several parts of the democratic world. In India, a massive data collection program is being carried out to immaculate the purpose of citizen surveillance. Aadhaar is a twelve digit unique identity number which is issued to the citizens of India after registering their biometric details, collected by Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI). Some of the attributes and utilities of Aadhar are described as the targeted delivery of financial and other subsidies, benefits, and services. Aadhar was subsequently muscled with the legislative strength in the budget session of 2016. Recently government made Aadhaar mandatory for availing a host of state services, which includes grain allotment at subsidized rates, filing tax returns, enrolling for scholarships, etc. despite being its mandate not to make it essential for state welfare programs. With the fear of data breach, Supreme Court of India has agreed to form a constitutional bench to hear all the angles associated with Aadhaar. Subsequently ruling that the right to privacy is intrinsic to life and liberty. Increasing reports on the data breach, through online portals, the citizens anxiously sought judicial intervention. Through theoretical deliberations, this paper attempts to understand the implications of such large-scale biometric data collection. It contends the ownership upon citizens’ data as their essential rights of privacy. And theorize the state, society, and citizen relationship within the discursive boundaries of private and social.

State-surveillance, Data-ethics, Privacy
Media Technologies
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

Devam Thapa

Research Scholar, Center for Media Studies, School of Social Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India
New Delhi, India

I am a Doctoral Research Scholar at Centre for Media Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. I share an interest in studying State-Media-Technology relationship, Media Theory and Social Movements of Uttarakhand, India.