1. All information is private unless made public.
2. The natural owner of any information is the one to whom the information pertains, and, unless there is a procedure established by law, it can’t be created/recorded by a third party, including in human memory, without the consent of the person concerned.
3. If the information pertains to more than one person, then all to whom it pertains are the joint owners of the information concerned, and there is a presumption of confidentiality between the owners; and, unless there is a procedure established by law, the information can’t be created/recorded by a third party, including in human memory, without the individual consents of the persons concerned.
4. A joint owner, in his capacity of a joint owner, can disclose private information pertaining to another joint owner in a court of law in a dispute with the other joint owner in which the private information is a “relevant fact”, and the court shall admit such evidence as confidential information not to be disclosed to the public.
5. The information owned by the government is always public unless made private specifically by a procedure established by law. The acts of public servants while performing public duties is the information owned by the government. Public servants include private persons performing public duties.
6. The information owned by an owner/joint owners can be made public by the owner/the joint owners at his/their discretion subject to the law of the land. The presence of any activity/information of the owner/the joint owners which is clearly, easily and directly visible/audible/perceptible from a public place, which includes private place frequented by public, is deemed to be an application of the discretion to make the private information public by the owner/the joint owners, and the same can be recorded in any form by third parties. The discretion may include making the information public to a specified group only, in which case the members of the specified group become the joint owners of the information, and the information becomes the private information pertaining to the specified group.
7. Any third party can make the information pertaining to any other person public only by a procedure established by law.
8. Unless there is a procedure established by law, there is a rebuttable presumption of non-necessity of recording the private information or of making the private information public by a third party except in a court of law as an evidence of a “relevant fact”, and the court shall admit such evidence as confidential information not to be disclosed to the public. The onus of proof lies on the third party to prove the necessity. The necessity can lie only in public interest or in private defence.
9. If any information pertains to the sexual life of a person/group, unless there is a procedure established by law, there is a non-rebuttable presumption of the non-necessity of recording the private information or of making the private information public by a third party except in a court of law as a “relevant fact”, and the court shall admit such evidence as confidential information not to be disclosed to the public.
I formulated the above privacy principles in 2012 and bombarded Twitter with mentions. 🙂 Even sent a notice to the Parliament to make privacy law (if nothing else than on these privacy principles 🙂 ). But, I do sincerely believe that privacy is all about personal info/data, which is now a property. All the fight about privacy is actually about the ownership of this info/data. AADHAAR has obfuscated the debate by shifting the goalpost from data ownership to data protection with an underlying presumption that the State is the owner of all data by default, and the privacy right, if any, should be limited to the grant/non-grant of access to this data. Therefore, policing techniques should be used to protect data from the original owner himself in the interest of community. But, at the same time, the business interest should be protected by the grant of access to the cumulative data to the business, if nothing else than in “National Interest.” Therefore, it is extremely important to reinforce the ownership of data in the hands of the natural & original owner, not the State. The above privacy principles provide a tool for doing so. This reinforcement is the most important now because the Supreme Court of India may eventually rule there is no natural fundamental Right to Privacy, and all the right that exists or would exist is just a positive right as granted by the State. SO BEWARE!
© 2012-2017 Ankur Mutreja
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