[This post has been authored by Prashant Khurana, LL.M. Graduate (Class of 2020) from the UCLA School of Law and Founding Editor at Polemics and Pedantics Magazine, and Parth Maniktala, LL.B. Candidate (Class of 2021) at the Campus Law Center, University of Delhi, and Editor at Polemics and Pedantics Magazine.]
COVID-19 has spawned efforts geared towards contact-tracing, triggering collection and processing of sensitive personal data across the world. Legal protections surrounding this large-scale data collection are predominantly nascent, raising significant concerns about the precedent this sets for data privacy. In India, the Supreme Court’s landmark Puttaswamy judgement recognized privacy as intrinsic to the right to life and liberty, as secured by Article 21 of the Constitution. However, the Court conceded that privacy may be abridged if a legitimate interest, say, an epidemic, exists—provided the doctrine of ‘proportionality’ is satisfied. Notably, India’s controversial data protection legislation is yet to be enacted, and in its absence, judicial pronouncements govern.