Data protection law must be same for both private and government players

Experts slammed the proposed facial recognition system of the Ministry of Home Affairs and said it would wrongfully target LGBTQ members.

Published: 15th July 2019 10:37 AM  |   Last Updated: 15th July 2019 10:37 AM   |  A+A-

By Express News Service

HYDERABAD: The proposed Data Protection Bill should not only focus on the common man but should be equally strong for both big private conglomerates as well as on the government itself, said a panellist attending a discussion on the proposed data law by the Free Software Movement of India (FSMI) on Sunday.

In a discussion which was held at IIIT-Hyderabad, Amba Kak, a public policy advisor of Mozilla Firefox, said that the proposed law should be stringent and that personal data should be stored in servers.

The panel was also attended by Jochai Ben-Avie, the head of international public policy at Mozilla who highlighted how beneficial the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has been for the European Union. Ben Avie said, “The law and consequent data protection has brought in a lot of economic opportunities. If companies do not comply with the GDPR, they can be fined.”

The event was attended by JNTUH professor Dr L Prathap Reddy who termed “tracking” as a dangerous phenomenon. “The biggest problem is that all data is centralised and machines are the decision makers, not us. For example, Aadhaar is being linked to financial technology and government schemes.

Hence, tracking is a dangerous phenomenon,” he said. Software professional Srikanth Lakshmanan said, “As government collects more data, they have quasi-control on us. Government is redistributing our personal data to private players.”At least 150 members including international delegates, software professionals, academicians, activists and others attended the event.

Activists oppose facial recognition software

Experts slammed the proposed facial recognition system of the Ministry of Home Affairs and said it would wrongfully target LGBTQ members. Recently, the Home Ministry clarified that the automated facial recognition system would not violate privacy and was being developed to identify criminals, missing children and unidentified persons. However, city based privacy activist and independent security researcher Srinivas Kodali begged to differ. He cited example of  national sexual offenders database, where, though “MHA intends to carry surveillance on potential offenders using facial recognitions, often the LGBTQ members are wrongly added to the database with no recourse.” Launched in 2018, the National Database on Sexual Offenders (NDSO) has names, addresses, photographs and fingerprints of persons on charges of rape, offences related to POCSO and stalking


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