The Congress on Sunday said the DNA profiling Bill prepared by the Narendra Modi government was full of loopholes and would violate the right to privacy in its current form. It termed the proposed legislation as “ill-conceived” and an attempt by the government to “strengthen the conformity that surveillance breeds”.
Congress spokesman Abhishek Manu Singhvi said that the DNA profiling Bill was the latest in a series of attempts by the Modi government to “snoop and spy on ordinary citizens”. “The introduction of DNA Technology (Use and Application) Regulation Bill, 2018, in a hush-hush manner, in the recently concluded monsoon session of Parliament is another attempt towards this mala fide objective,” Singhvi said.
“Surveillance breeds conformity. And this government is an absolute conformist government. The DNA bill is an attempt to strengthen this conformity,” he added. He said that “fearing backlash” from opposition in the Rajya Sabha, the government withdrew the bill after listing it in the business of the House, but then it notified it in the business of the Lok Sabha, where it has a majority, at late night on August 8 and introduced it the next day.
Singhvi clarified that the Congress party was not in principle against DNA profiling, but the government should first bring a comprehensive data protection law “encompassing issues pertaining to all the sectors and ministries” after wide public consultations. “The DNA Database could be another Aadhaar-like database, without adequate protection and safeguards. DNA samples can reveal more intrusive information about a person and hence there is a greater risk of this information getting misused,” Singhvi said.
The Congress leader pointed out that the AP Shah Committee on privacy has expressed its concerns on the issue of breach of privacy by DNA profiling. “The Committee made several recommendations including ensuring safeguards against breach of data by the government, right of citizens against retention of data, notification and mandatory consent of data subject taken before sharing the data with third party, besides many. The bill does not seem to consider either of the recommendations,” he said.