The Justice A. P. Shah panel has recommended an over-arching law to protect privacy and personal data in the private and public spheres.

The report also suggested setting up privacy commissioners, both at the Central and State levels.

It has spelt out nine national privacy principles that could be followed while framing the law.

The report comes at a time when there is growing concern over unique identity numbers, DNA profiling, brain-mapping, etc, most of which will be implemented on the ICT platform.

The report has listed certain exceptions in the right to privacy such as national security, public order, disclosure in public interest, prevention, detection, investigation and prosecution of criminal offences and protection of the individual or of the rights of freedom of others.

In certain cases, historical or scientific research and journalistic purposes can also be considered as exceptions, says the report.

Networking sites

Referring to social networking sites and search engines, which have their own privacy code, Justice Shah said these will either have to follow the model provided in the proposed Act or have a self-regulatory mechanism approved by the privacy commissioner.

The report suggests harmonising the proposed privacy Act with the RTI Act. Responding to privacy infringement concerns, as aired by the Prime Minister recently, Justice Shah said RTI was the only law that gave statutory protection to privacy, which could be over-ridden only in certain cases for individuals, not companies.

Minister of State for Planning Ashwani Kumar said a privacy Act was necessary as in a democracy one had to ensure that “no one right is so exercised so as to infringe upon the rights of individuals.”

The high-level panel submitted its report to the Planning Commission on Thursday. It will now be forwarded to the Department of Personnel and Training, which is already looking into the privacy law.