May 20, 2019

Data Privacy and Protection - What Next?

  • Justice B N Srikrishna Indian jurist and retired judge of the Supreme Court of India.

    Justice B N Srikrishna
    Indian jurist and retired judge of the Supreme Court of India.

With over 460 million internet users, projected to grow to 636 million by 2021, India is the second largest online market in the world; internet penetration has grown from 10% in 2011 to 26% in 2018. With the substantial rise in storage, aggregation and processing of data and amidst mounting concerns over the privacy of citizens, the country is moving towards digital governance in a big way. The challenge is to balance the protection of citizens' rights with responsibilities of the states without hampering trade and industry.


As we drop our data everywhere we go, we are giving the companies access/permission to use, capture, store and analyse it, which they further use it for targeted ads or sell them to third parties. Data protection has become a huge concern over the years with a rise in potential data misuse.

The Justice BN Srikrishna Committee submitted a draft protection data bill (in July of 2018) that regulates the processing of personal data of individuals by the government and/or private entities carrying business in India or abroad.

The processing of data is allowed only on individual’s consent, in case of emergencies, or in areas/situations where the state has to use sovereign powers to combat crime, terrorist activities etc. Therefore, the retention or access of data also sometimes depends on circumstances.

‘Data security’ is interpreted in very different aspects by the Supreme Court and the computer scientists; in narrow and civil liberty angles respectively. The data that we generate can be completely critical or less. While the critical data has to be located on a server within our jurisdiction, in case of transmission of data to another country, misuse of it will be addressed by the other party. Therefore, these issues need international cooperation.

Focus areas of discussion

  • How can we strike a balance between the need to protect individual privacy with national security?
  • Can data be claimed as one’s property?
  • Can Aadhaar infringe on individual privacy?
  • How can data collection be streamlined taking into account privacy?
  • What are the key challenges to implementing the Data Protection Act?



Justice B N Srikrishna
Justice B N Srikrishna
Indian jurist and retired judge of the Supreme Court of India.

Bellur Narayanaswamy Srikrishna is an Indian jurist and a retired judge of the Supreme Court of India. From 1993–98, he headed the 'Srikrishna Commission' that investigated causes and apportioned blame for the Bombay riots of 1992–93. He is currently the chairman of the Financial Sector Legislative Reforms Commission.