Even as a nine-member Constitution bench of the Supreme Court (SC) is examining whether the right to privacy is a fundamental right, in the wake of citizens having to part with biometric data for unique ID Aadhaar, Nandan Nilekani on Saturday said the privacy debate is taking away focus from the real issue of using data to benefit people. “We need to have a law that (mandates) whoever collects data, be it an Indian or global company or the government, will share data with consumers/businesses on request,” Nilekani said at the Delhi Economics Conclave here. This is a very fundamental thing which could put the economy on cycle of growth using data. It would empowers users with data, remove knowledge asymmetry and promote innovation, he said. Nilekani, former head of the Unique ID Authority of India, which implemented the Aadhaar project, urged policymakers to take steps for data inversion to empower users, who can benefit from their own data.
Citing the Goods and Services Tax Network (GSTN), which would alone generate one billion records each month on items being bought/sold, he said such data, for instance, can be used by businesses to secure bank loans. Similarly, a Facebook or Google user can take his entire data graph and switch to a rival platform. This would lead to “data democracy” and companies can no longer force individuals to accept their terms and conditions.