Installation of Webcam may hinder Privacy

Web camera is an equipment which is used to record or broadcast live video. This is a great technology model in modern world, and carries out various advantages. Web Camera/CCTV (Closed Circuit Television) are a great source for security and protection perspective. Installation of such camera is more an essential/necessity in modern world rather than being a new innovative invention incurred by some. Well, the use and installations of cameras in places like banks, offices, important public places has also been a problem. The instances of couple making love, couple kissing in Delhi Metro been captured in cameras, and later surfacing on internet poses a serious threat to one’s fundamental right to privacy.[1]

But, other than this, Schools are one of the largest buyers of cameras. The cameras are installed in schools (to be precise- classrooms) with a view of ensuring security and maintaining a proper check on children activities. Upto an extent, this reasoning might seem a valid point, but if seen with a moral and legal perspective, it raises various questions such as:[2]

What about Students Privacy?

Students are the primary reason, which forces the authority to fit camera in classrooms, with a view of observing student activities, rather than with a security purpose. How are these different. When cameras are installed with a security perspective, the camera is switched onn just in order to check the activities are being recorded or not, and are only referred in times of problem, while cameras installed in classrooms are installed with a perspective of observing children day to day exercise, this creates a mental stress to students, as there is always someone keeping an eye on students, and such stress hinders students growth. And there is always a sense of fear in students mind.

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What about Teachers Privacy?

During times of COVID-19 pandemic, teachers are the one who are facing most problems, as we all know study cannot be stopped, but the online teaching program in the pandemic situation raises a concern for teachers privacy. Teachers are teaching students from school via online teaching program, the point of concern for such teachers is, that they are being exposed to the cyber world to teach the students, but what if the images and videos are leaked or misused. This forces teacher to have a second thought. It is the duty of schools and other educational institutes to secure the protection of teachers, especially female teachers, who are more prone to be victimized.

CASE LAW

  1. Justice KS Puttaswamy (Retd.) & Anr. V. Union of India[3]

A constitution bench in 2017 had held Right to Privacy as a Fundamental Right under Article 21 of Indian Constitution. It also stated that right to privacy of an individual extends to public spaces as well.

  1. Amber Tickoo v. Government of NCT of Delhi[4]

A petition was filed by Amber Tickoo, a law student from National Law University (NLU), Delhi. It was filed through Adv. Manisha Ambwani and contended that the decision to install CCTV in classrooms and provide a live feed to parents of students is in direct contravention of Supreme Court judgment given in the above case. A notice was issued to Govt. Of Delhi in this case by former Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Sanjiv Khanna claiming that the decision of the government violates fundamental right to Privacy.

What about the protection of data captured?

Neither there is any act in India dealing with data protection nor is there any agency specifically dealing with data protection. India’s Aadhaar biometric database, with more than 1.4 billion records, is the largest database in the world, but no exclusive protection of the records have been provided till date. Then the news about giving access to personal details of a person for a small amount blowing pan India poses a big question in front of India and creates a sense of being threatened.

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DATA PROTECTION LAWS IN INDIA

Strongest legal protection can be said to be provided through Section 43A of Information Technology rules, 2011. It states that whenever a corporate body deals with any sort of personal information and is found to be negligent in maintaining a reasonable security to protect such data or information, which thereby causes any wrongful loss to the person, then there lies a liability for such body to compensate the affected person. There are certain requirements under Section 43A:

  1. A privacy policy shall be provided by the corporate body to all ‘Providers of Information’: Specified in Rule 4.
  2. Consent in letter, fax, etc. must be obtained from the ‘Provider of Information’ before any data is collected or disclosed: Specified in Rule 5(1).
  3. Sensitive personal information must be collected for lawful and necessary purposes only: Specified in Rule 5(2)
  4. ‘Provider of Information’ must be informed about:
  5. Fact that the information is being collected
  6. Purpose for which information is being collected
  7. Intended recipients of the Information
  8. Name and address of the agency collecting information and the agency that would retain the information

Specified in Rule 5(3)

  1. Corporate Body are allowed to retain sensitive information as long as necessary lawfully: Specified in Rule 5(4)
  2. Information shall only be used for the purpose stated: Specified in Rule 5(5)
  3. ‘Providers of Information’, whenever they deem it necessary shall be allowed to review, update and correct any sensitive personal information so provided: Specified in Rule 5(6)
  4. ‘Providers of Information’ shall have the choice to opt in or opt out of the services provided, prior to collection of sensitive information and shall possess the ability to withdraw their consent at any point of time: Specified in Rule 5(7)
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Section 72A of Information Technology Act, states punishment for disclosure of information in breach of lawful contract as imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years or fine which may extend to Rs. 5 lacks or both.

Enactment of Consumer Protection Act, 2015 also acts as an additional source of redressal for misuse of personal data by commercial entities as Section 2(r) of Consumer Protection Act, 2015 defines disclosure of personal information given in confidence as unfair trade practices and includes emotional or mental harm resulting from damages from property, among others to attribute harm.

CONCLUSION

In the modern world, Cameras are a necessity for security and protection of one’s well being. But, the legislators shall strike a balance between privacy and security. It is very essential to protect fundamental rights of people and for that drawing a line is very important. Despite the laws on data protection, there stands out a great need of drafting an act dealing with data protection, and the government must soon setup a data agency to regularly monitor the cyber environment.

 

[1] https://www.business-standard.com/article/current-affairs/violation-of-privacy-through-cctv-cameras-rampant-say-experts-115040400775_1.html

[2] https://privacyinternational.org/state-privacy/1002/state-privacy-india

[3] https://www.barandbench.com/news/right-privacy-fundamental-right-supreme-court

[4] https://www.barandbench.com/news/cctv-cameras-classrooms-right-privacy-supreme-court-notice-delhi-govt

Author: Arunabh Srivastava,
Symbiosis Law School, NOIDA, 2nd Year

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