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How other countries look at right to privacy

By Oneindia Staff Writer

The nine-judge Constitution bench, headed by Chief Justice J S Khehar, ruled that privacy is a guaranteed fundamental right, and is protected under Article 21 (Right to Life and Liberty). With this, India has taken a lead in recognising privacy as a fundamental right at a time when issues of surveillance and data breach are being increasingly debated across the world.

How other countries look at right to privacy

To get better understanding of the scenario, it will be useful to see how other jurisdictions (of different countries) treat this fundamental right.

We take a look at how other countries look at right to privacy.


The world's oldest democracy, USA has not exactly mentioned the word 'privacy' in its Constitution. However, the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution is largely seen as the clause protecting that right. The amendment The Fourth Amendment states "the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized".


The country has its own 'Privacy Act' which came into being around 1988. It governs the handling of personal information of individuals.


In 2015, Japan adopted a system of citizen identification which united personal tax information, social security and disaster relief benefits. It was launched amid protests by critics who were worried by the privacy concerns it posed.

The law gave all Japanese citizens and foreign residents a 12 digit 'My Number'. The aim was to make administration more systematic and social welfare benefits more efficient, while also helping to cut down on tax evasion and benefit fraud. The government will eventually extend the system to bank accounts, as well, to keep track of of people's assets for taxation purposes. It will first be voluntary from 2018 but could become mandatory by 2021.

Japanese law in itself does not explicitly provide for a right to privacy. But the right is read into Article 13 of the Japanese Constitution which provides for the right to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" and for the right for people to be "respected as individuals".


Member countries of the European Union (EU) adopted the EU Data Protection Directive in 1995 which looks at protection of personal data and regulates free movement of such data.

However, come 2018, the European Commission has said that it will be rolling out a new set of rules on data protection. The new rules, the Commission cites, will give citizens lawful control over their personal data.

Also important to note is Article 8 of the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR).

"There shall be no interference by a public authority with the exercise of this right except such as is in accordance with the law and is necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security, public safety or the economic well-being of the country, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others," it says.


The country's Constitution states, "The intimacy, private life, honor and image of the people are inviolable, with assured right to indenization by material or moral damage resulting from its violation."


The Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act governs the collection and usage of personal information.

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