New Delhi, Aug 24 - Affirming India's priority on data protection, IT and Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the government does not give the right to release data to anyone, except in case of compelling public interest.
"As the IT minister of the country, I can't give my data or finger print to anyone. Government does not give the right to release data to anyone, except in case of compelling public interest and this compelling public interest shall be affirmed first by the Joint Secretary Home Ministry, vetted by a committee of the Cabinet Secretary, IT Secretary and Law," Prasad said.
He was addressing media persons about the government's stand on the right to privacy following the apex court's judgement declaring privacy a fundamental right under the Constitution.
"Let me clarify, the Narendra Modi government is very proud to be seen as India's digital power. And India is today recognised worldwide as an emerging digital power for Digital India, Make in India.
"There are 118 crore mobile connections. There are 50 crore internet connections. India will be a global digital power and we can take good care of our cyber security and safety. I am very happy that all the big international companies are coming to India in a big way. There is Google, Facebook, WhatsApp... they are all welcome," he added.
The Supreme Court ruling, by a nine-judge bench headed by Chief Justice J.S. Khehar, will have a bearing on the challenge to the validity of the Aadhaar scheme on the grounds of it being violative of the right to privacy.
Prasad asserted that like all other fundamental rights, the right to privacy is also not an absolute right.
Saying that data protection is one of the key focus of the government, the minister said the government had already formed a committee for data protection.
The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) has constituted an experts committee to study and identify key data protection issues and recommend methods for addressing them.
The committee, headed by the Supreme Court's former Judge B.N. Srikrishna, was constituted on July 31, 2017. The committee comprises members from the government, academia and industry.
"The committee will also suggest a draft Data Protection Bill. Protection of data is expected to provide a big boost to the digital economy of the country," the government said earlier in a statement.