How Public Should Public Data Be? Privacy & E-Governance in India
26 Pages Posted: 19 Mar 2018
Date Written: March 16, 2018
India is at a critical juncture as cities and governments in general move into the digital age in order not only to provide enhanced services, but to improve transparency and efficiency, and as this development is taking place at a time when the Supreme Court bench has decided in August, 2017 that privacy is a constitutional right. It is in this context that this research asks the following question: how can cities (a state actor) use citizen data to maximize the governance while protecting the citizens fundamental right to privacy? We examine how this balance and tradeoffs arise due to the way Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) collect, use, and disclose citizen data. For the investigation, we collect ULB metadata by examining the architecture of the products of eGovernments Foundation, one of the leading providers of digital tools for ULBs, and by directly by interacting with ULBs. Based on this investigation, we define two new indices, a Governance Efficiency Index (GEI) and a Information Privacy Index (IPI), that allows for measuring city’s performance on the two dimensions, understanding where tensions arise in simultaneously improving performance on both, and where innovation will overcome such tensions. In addition, to being able to make specific observations and recommendations for the particular cases we examined, this work is a proof of concept that such analysis can and should be done more widely, in order to understand the tradeoffs between government transparency and efficiency on one hand, and privacy on the other.
Keywords: e-governance, privacy, urban governance
JEL Classification: Z18, O21
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation