Consent is not the key to privacy protection

The Supreme Court has set the tone on the momentous question of the citizens’ fundamental right to privacy with its judgment on the K.S. Puttaswamy case. As we grasp the details and the contours of the right, we are also acutely aware of the speed with which society is being changed by digital technology. The rush to “cashless India”, the spread of smartphones throughout society increasing the extent to which we are tracked, profiled, aggregated and predicted by the networks that used to just ring the telephone numbers we dialed are just two examples. Whatever “privacy” used to mean, it is clear to all of us, as it was to the justices in the Supreme Court that the problems collected under that rubric are changing very rapidly.

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