The Hindu Editorial with Vocabulary – May 2018

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The Hindu Editorial with Vocabulary – “The Transatlantic Variants”

India must be careful in picking up best practices from elsewhere in drafting a data protection law. While the Americans and Europeans both call a sport football, they play a very different game. This difference is rooted not only in culture but in the rules of the game that provide rewards for goals, and penalties for breaching allowances. In the case of privacy regulations too, such a marked distinction is visible. With the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) coming into effect on May 25, 2018, the absence of a comparable regulation across the Atlantic poses a question for India: What path should it take? Should it follow the U.S. or Europe? Or, in fact, should India take the lead in this regard?

American exceptionalism

Last year, in November, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in Carpenter v. United States, which many commentators termed as one of the most critical electronic surveillance case in decades. Among other finely threaded legal arguments was the “third party doctrine”. It reasons that once a person turns over her data to a third party (such as a bank or a website), her expectation of privacy ends. This severely cripples the immunity that protects people from “unreasonable search and seizures”, thereby permitting the government to requisition data from third parties such as banks. Our Supreme Court realised the error in this narrow doctrine, rejecting it more than a decade ago in the case of District Registrar v. Canara Bank, ruling that our privacy protections would continue to apply as they ultimately vest in a person rather than the possession of personal artefacts. Another area where the U.S. seems to be a poor defender of privacy and data protection is when it comes to the conduct of private parties. With revelations around Cambridge Analytica and growing concern around the power of technology companies, new concerns have come to the fore. The consumer interest approach enforced by the Federal Trade Commission for unfair and deceptive trade practices and a panoply of sectoral regulators and state laws are an ineffective substitute to a federal regulator that draws its power from a comprehensive data protection law. This is not only a deficiency in the absence of law, but a fundamental design error in which legal regulation has been designed to protect property, rather than people.

While the U.S. may present a dismal picture for data protection, it has seen an incremental movement towards surveillance reform after the disclosures made by Edward Snowden on surveillance programmes. While data protection and surveillance may seem like separate issues, they build off each other since they both concern personal data — greater government surveillance weakens and hurts data protection offered by private companies. Even before the disclosures, the U.S. had an imperfect body under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which has the legal authority to pass interception orders. We in India have no such counterpart or even a bare acknowledgement that interception requires prior judicial sanction. Even existing procedures which are supposed to act as safeguards are flouted with little repercussions. For instance, evidence which is gathered illegally in the U.S. may eventually lead to an acquittal, but our courts have consistently reasoned that such an impropriety at best could lead to a departmental inquiry against the erring official. Even when it seems we are much more progressive in our constitutional doctrine, there always remains room for learning.

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Growing European influence

In contrast, the GDPR seems like as a modern, progressive text. The GDPR is in a lot of ways closer to our constitutional understanding of data protection as articulated by the Puttaswamy judgement last August, in which nine judges of the Supreme Court unanimously held privacy to be a pivot for our fundamental rights. So when the GDPR provides for an explicit consent-based mechanism and continuing control for users, it seems to be setting a legislative template for India. However, it is not as if there are no risks in parroting the European solution. When it provides a “strong law” for users, the GDPR also seems like a strong-arm law to trade and commerce. Two common business objections are made. The first cites a rise in costs that would impact users, in which a bureaucratic apparatus would require companies to pass on a data protection tax. Such an argument is clearly out of step with the realisation of recent months that leaving personal data unprotected erodes trust in technology.

The second objection concerns the wider, sectoral ambitions of India’s IT entrepreneurs who ideologise permission-less innovation. They argue that regulation will make them unable to compete globally. This is incorrect on several counts, beside being self-defeating. It ignores that privacy and data protection are inherent to the coming waves of innovation. Data protection will act as a regulatory springboard to the next generation of online products and services. This, in turn, will provide a cleaner, sustainable and rights-friendly alternative to the existing theology of treating data as a fossil fuel. If anything, “strong” data protection is beneficial for the long-term health of the technology sector by improving user trust and sectoral competitiveness.

If we hasten, we are sure to fall. Blind adoption of the GDPR would present immediate peril for several reasons. As an ambitious project, the text of the GDPR has tremendous breadth and is riddled with business exceptions which may provide porous sieves for personal data. While refinements may be incrementally made in Europe, we in India at the outset need to have foresight in adopting the drafting choices of a foreign, even if influential, text. For instance, two areas where concern arises are its impact on the right to free speech and expression and the right to information laws. A joint statement by two of the leading digital rights organisations, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Article 19, have stated that in the context of the right to be forgotten, the GDPR “poses a significant risk of misuse to stifle free expression online”.

Much closer to home, there has been constant worry by activists defending the embattled Right to Information Act. Their prior experience makes them wary, as the judiciary has been frequently citing privacy to undermine government transparency. For instance, in Girish Deshpande v. Central Information Commissioner, the Supreme Court upheld an order denying access to the income tax returns of a public servant. Hence, every effort should be made that the motivation to correct the absence of a data protection law does not end up hurting individuals by making government opaque and unaccountable.

Synthesise carefully

As India stands at a crossroads, it should chart its course picking up the best ideas and practices that promote user control over data. This requires adaptation from both the U.S. and the GDPR. Our challenges are extensive, and our interests diverse. Here virtue lies in the humility to learn from others and care to protect our residents. As a public policy goal, we should borrow freely but use such knowledge within legal regulation to enlarge individual liberty.

Vocabulary Words from The Hindu Editorial

1. Repercussions(Noun) नतीजों/ अप्रत्यक्ष प्रभाव/ प्रतिक्रिया : The power to bring about a result on another. (an unintended consequence occurring some time after an event or action, especially an unwelcome one.)

Synonyms : Impact, Consequences, Influence, Results

Antonyms : Causes, Impotence , Weakness, Powerlessness

Example : Research has shown that these types of problems are having serious repercussions on the U.S. work force.

2. Articulate(Adjective) स्पष्ट /गाँठदार/ साफ़ साफ़ बोलना: (of a person or a person’s words) having or showing the ability to speak fluently and coherently.

Synonyms : Eloquent, Fluent, Persuasive, Expressive

Antonyms : Inarticulate, Unclear, Incoherent, Speechless

Example : They’re smart enough to think about and articulate arguments coherently.

3. Theology(Noun) धर्मशास्र : Religious beliefs and theory when systematically developed.

Synonyms : Divinity, Faith, Belief, Scripture

Antonyms : Scepticism, Disbelief, Doubt

Example : He must be committed to and must have studied Reformed and Baptist theology ..

4. Peril(Noun) जोखिम/ आशंका/ खतरा : The risks or difficulties that arise from a particular situation or activity. (ख़तराजोखिम)

Synonyms : Hazard, Jeopardy, Danger, Risk, Threat

Antonyms : Security, Protection, Immunity, Invulnerability.

Example : The thief was probably unaware of the stir that he had caused or that his actions had now put his life in serious peril.

5. Tremendous(Adjective) भयानक/ अति दारूण : Very great in amount, scale, or intensity.

Synonyms : Enormous, Immense, Colossal, Vast

Antonyms : Tiny, Insignificant, Small, Diminutive

Example : The weather was fantastic and full use was made of the tremendous facilities at the popular holiday venue.

6. Breach(Noun) उल्लंघन / विच्छेद : an act of breaking or failing to observe a law, agreement, or code of conduct.

Synonyms: Contravention, Infraction, Infringement, Transgression, Trespass, Violation

Antonyms: Observance, Upholding, Comply, Obedience

Example: The country is currently in breach of the Kyoto Agreement and continuing high emissions will result in a heavy penalties accruing to this country and to Irish taxpayers

7. Cripple(verb) विकलांग/ खराब करना/ बिगाड़ना : To cause severe or permanent injury to.

Synonyms: Disable, Paralyse, Immobilize, Makelame, Lame, Incapacitate, Debilitate, Handicap;

Antonyms:  Heal, Rehabilitate, Patch, Rejuvenate, Renew, Repair,

Example: Only four or five compromised client machines can cripple a server; in this way it’s a fiendishly economical attack.

8. Panoply(Noun) धूमधाम/ सरणी, संग्रह : An complete or impressive collection.

Synonyms : Array, Range, Collection, Show

Antonyms :  Concealment, Cover, Ordinariness, Hiding.

Example : A great discovery does not leap completely achieved from the brain of the scientist, as Minerva sprang, all panoplied , from the head of Jupiter.

9. Dismal(Adjective) निराशाजनक/ शोकयुक्त  : Causing a mood of gloom or depression. (Something that is dismal is bad in a sad or depressing way.)

Synonyms : Depressing, Mournful, Dreadful, Terrible.

Antonyms  : Excellent, Cheerful, Bright, Encouraging.

Example : His donors are already bickering over who is most responsible for his dismal showing.

10. Flout(Verb) अनादर करना/ उपहास करना : Openly disregard (a rule, law, or convention).

Synonyms :  Scorn, Contravene, Scoff, Gibe, Fleer.

Antonyms  : Approve, Obey, Respect, Commend.

Example : The Government needs to bring in more stringent punishments for drivers who flout the law.

Word of the Day –  “Empirical”

  • Empirical (adjective) अनुभूतिमूलक, अनुभवसद्ध, आनुभविक, अनुभवाश्रित, प्रयोगाश्रित, अनुभवजन्य
  • Meaning:-  Based on, concerned with, or verifiable by observation or experience rather than theory or pure logic.
  • Synonyms:  Experiential, practical, heuristic, firsthand, hands-on, observed, evidence-based, seen.
  • Antonym: Hypothetical, impractical, theoretical, conjectural
  • Example: This law is purely empirical and it makes no attempt to explain the phenomenon.
  • उदाहरण: यह नियम पूरी तरह से अनुभूतिमूलक है और इसमें घटना को स्पष्ट करने की कोई कोशिश नहीं की गई है।

Quote of the Day

“Success in life is a matter not so much of talent or opportunity as of concentration and perseverance.” C.W. Wendte

“जीवन में सफलता इतना अधिक प्रतिभा अथवा अवसर का विषय नहीं है जितना वह लक्ष्य के प्रति प्रतिबद्धता और डटे रहने का है।” सी. डब्ल्यू. वेन्डेट

The Hindu Editorial with Vocabulary Monthly PDF: April 2018

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