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Part 5: Unleash the fight against Covid-19: Is it possible to balance right to privacy & public interest

This article is part of a 5 part series authored by AnantLaw partners


abstract shapes series used to depict data privacy and data protection

Part 5: Conclusions and AnantLaw opinion

“Data privacy” is integral to any democratic country. It has always been sensitive as it is associated with a citizen’s fundamental right to privacy. With COVID-19, thousands of people are being screened and are tested at the airports and hospitals for the novel coronavirus and the information inter alia pertaining to medical condition and travel itineraries are being collected by the authorities including the private employers.

Undoubtedly, data is likely to play an important role to contain and reduce the spread of the virus but while collection of certain data may be necessary for discharging ‘state’ functions; but collection of not every data can be justified on account of public interest.

Further, even though collection of data for the stated purpose finds acceptance; but retaining such data collected beyond the purpose-stated time-period would be unacceptable. Furthermore, while processing of such data for future analysis and discrimination (by employers/ government) would be characterized an offence; but, examination of patient-related patterns, analysis and studies undertaken by research groups/ hospitals/ pharmaceuticals, medical device and health care companies of such data (including how they have procured such data in first place etc.) are not readily available straight jacketed responses.

Therefore, in a tussle between right to privacy and public interest, a balancing line is required to be drawn and practices balancing the two may be adopted by the corporate houses and governments while dealing with the data of Indian citizens and other individuals within Indian territory.


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