Identity and Privacy: The Hindu Editorial on the Prisoner Identification Bill

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Prisoner identification bill, which raises privacy and data security concerns, needs careful review

Prisoner identification bill, which raises privacy and data security concerns, needs careful review

The Union Government’s latest proposal to allow the collection of biometric and biological data from prisoners, in addition to the usual physical measurements, photographs and fingerprints, raises serious questions about its legal validity. Such questions are unavoidable in an age when people view official efforts to collect personal data with suspicion. The practice of recording photographs and fingerprints of prisoners is over a century old in the country, backed by a colonial law dating back to 1920. The Union government is now proposing to expand the idea of take “measures” to cover “fingerprints”. , palm prints, footprints, … physical, biological samples and their analysis”, in addition to “behavioral attributes, including signatures [and] The Criminal Procedure (Identification) Bill 2022, which embodies this objective, was introduced in the Lok Sabha. Supreme Court declaring that privacy is a fundamental right in KS Puttaswamy. Some have argued that the bill permits the coercive taking of samples and possibly involves a violation of section 20(3), which protects the right against self-incrimination. There are also other concerns, such as the means by which the data collected will be stored, shared, disseminated and destroyed. The bill allows records to be kept for 75 years and destroyed sooner if the person is released or acquitted.

The concern about privacy and data security is undoubtedly significant. Such practices that involve the collection, storage and destruction of vital personal data should only be introduced after strict data protection law is in place, with strict penalties for breaches. The 1920 Act allowed action to be taken against persons sentenced to imprisonment for a year or more, and against anyone arrested for an offense punishable by such imprisonment; and third, one that provided a bond of good conduct and peace. However, this bill includes all convicts and anyone arrested under any law in force or detained under any law on preventive detention. There is a provision under which a person arrested, not charged with an offense against a woman or child, or facing a prison sentence of seven years or more, may prohibit the taking of samples. Not all prisoners may be aware that they can indeed refuse to have biological samples taken. And it can be easy for the police to ignore such a refusal and later claim that they have obtained the detainee’s consent. The bill is controversial, as the trend of arresting activists, protesters and even innocent people and invoking serious charges is on the rise. It would be in order if it were referred to a standing committee for further consideration before being enacted.

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