Law must evolve to protect privacy in the information age: Justice Chandracud

Stressing that “privacy issues are a serious problem in the information age,” Supreme Court Justice Justice DY Chandrachud said on Saturday that “our laws must evolve to respond to them.”

In delivering here Justice PM Mukhi’s Memorial Lecture on “Reconciling Rights and Innovation: Examining the Relationship Between Law and Technology”, Justice Chandracud explained how the internet and technology have revolutionized the scope of people’s rights and their interactions with government and the justice system, adding that “solutions in the digital age also come at a cost.”

“The first type of price… is through the digital profiling of all people. Each of our transactions and each site we visit leaves electronic traces, usually without our knowledge. These tracks contain powerful means of information that make it possible to know the type of person that the user is and his interests. All this data must be protected. In aggregation, this data can reveal the nature of an individual’s personality: dietary habits, language, health, hobbies, sexual preferences, friendships, ways of dressing and political affiliation,” he said.

“The second type of price is the nature of changes in our society due to the vast amount of information available through the internet. This can have negative effects…we can become susceptible to misinformation, we can be unable to verify the truth , or the information we receive can simply become what is dictated by an algorithm, with no real choice on our part.The vastness of this information can also have a numbing effect, where we become so used to hearing about problems that they don’t even concern us anymore,” he stressed.

Justice Chandrachud said that “the influx of the internet age has democratized speech for all individuals. Traditionally, the government controlled the platforms… individuals can now directly control these platforms.”

“The use of technology and the internet has not only expanded the scope of individuals’ rights, but also their access to basic services that help them better realize those rights and freedoms,” he said.

Regarding the judiciary’s adoption of digital options, Justice Chandrachud, who also leads the SC e-Committee, said that “the Covid-19 pandemic has proven to be a dramatic accelerator of the virtual and digital courts project. in India”.

Recalling the challenges when courts started hearing cases virtually after the nationwide lockdown in March 2020, he said that “several courts, including many among district courts with little or no infrastructure or experience with systems virtual, have risen and are now transitioning into the permanent pathways of hybrid auditory models”.

Explaining the achievements of the E-Committees e-Courts project, he said that 3.54 billion electronic transactions have been completed, which highlights the sheer reach of e-Courts services for ordinary citizens; 19.6 million cases were heard by the courts by videoconference, and of the 13 million cases registered, 8.3 million cases were settled, thus achieving a resolution rate of over 60%. E-filing software has also been developed, using which more than a million cases have been filed online, he said.

The widespread shift to virtual platforms has also exposed the deep fissures in our society regarding internet access. It showed us that not everyone can afford to work or study from home, while high-speed internet, gadgets and electricity are not guaranteed utilities, he said .

Justice Chandracud warned that while digital is the future, transitions must be accompanied by a vision of access and inclusion. This can only be achieved through concerted democratic processes with the goal of progress, but with the same goal of leaving no one behind, he said.

Highlighting the problems of techno-solutionism, he said, …all ills can be cured by the right technology, but in doing so it ignores the economic, cultural, social, racial, class and caste issues that plague our society and, consequently, their limits. in changing the mentality of society must be recognized.

Technology, he said, should not be designed for the sole purpose of being efficient, but to serve the inherent value of every human being. A separate plan of legal action to effectively improve conditions for app-based workers is urgently needed, he said.