This session of Parliament welcomes with open arms certain laws we've been quite concerned about. This includes, amendments to the Aadhaar Act; the Draft Personal Data Protection Bill, 2018. This timeline coincides with the proposed amendments to the draft Information Technology (Intermediaries Guidelines) Rules, 2018.
All this may seem like dull, legal mumbo-jumbo (which it often is); however these legal changes and proposals has a real, direct and severe impact on your privacy. When we launched the #SaveOurPrivacy campaign we made a public commitment to you, to keep fighting to ensure it is protected and over the past few months we have kept busy serving it!
Here's a few highlights to catch up with what we've been stirring:
1. Public Engagement and informing analysis: We have continuously engaged not only through our submissions to public consultations but through our posts that summarise these issues with explainers.
- Aadhaar Amendment: We have been coordinating with our friends over at the, "Rethink Aadhaar" campaign. This includes spending time in devising strategy, lending resources, collaboration to increase visibility.
- Intermediaries Rules: Some proposed changes to these rules will restrict not only your freedom of speech and expression but by measures such as breaking encryption, endanger your right to privacy (Read about it here).
- The Draft Personal Data Protection Bill: This proposed law may be introduced in the present session of parliament. It contains various gaps that need addressing before it is turned into legislation ranging from a number of exceptions provided to the Government to the lack of provisions that deal with surveillance reform and protection of children online (Read about it here).
2. Redrafting the Indian Privacy Code: This has been a hell of a lot of work! SaveOurPrivacy's model code on privacy has undergone the process of a complete redraft. To ensure we do this well, we held a a roundtable with some of the best legal counsels and academics to ensure the code is equipped to address further issues of data protection, privacy and surveillance. We will be releasing this version publicly by the end of this week with an explainer.
3. Fighting in the courts: In our fight against mass surveillance, we have challenged the surveillance practices of Government through a writ against the Ministry of Home Affairs (Read about it here). Parts of our work also included assisting in devising litigation strategy and coordination with the People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL). More recently we sent a legal notice to the Delhi Government against the illegal CCTV project (read more about it here).
4. Filing RTIs. Ensuring transparency: In ensuring we cover all grounds, we filed a number of RTI's with the Central Government with queries on the Personal Data Protection Bill (Read about it here) and surveillance powers of the Ministry (Read about it here). We have filed many, many more RTIs and will be announcing our larger advocacy plan on using transparency to ensure that the surveillance powers of government are exercised with proper safeguards and judicial and parliamentary oversight!
This is definitely not the end of it. As we continue to carry these on, our plan towards protecting your digital rights in light of the impending passing of these proposals will fully rest on these themes.
- Positively engage all government institutions with optimism and courage: IFF will continue to engage with the Government and parliamentarians in order to urge the transparency prevails through the disclosure of the full contours of the Data Protection Bill to its introduction in Parliament. At the same time we will continue to fight in courts, send notices and file RTIs.
- Focus on interests of the individual as articulated by the fundamental rights of the Constitution of India: We will make every effort to ensure that any legal proposals or changes protect individuals like you! We will work tirelessly to ensure that each government programme, or private use impacting privacy is rights oriented by making sure dangerous proposals such as mandatory, indefinite data retention and breaking encryption as suggested by the Intermediaries Rules do not proceed.
Yes, we can do more, and have more impact! But, we cannot do this alone. We welcome all offers of collaboration and support!
One good way to support the #SaveOurPrivacy campaign is to become a IFF member. This is not only a financial contribution which helps us hire staff, pay salaries and do work systematically over the long term, but also adds strength to our submissions and interactions with government and public officials.