(Ethics, Integrity & Aptitude - Theory)General Studies Paper 4
Question:- 38. Personal privacy becomes frivolous if it compromises with national security. Hence, personal privacy, at all times must relegate state security. Do you agree? Justify. Answer in 150 words.
Aug 12, 2022



The technological advancement has pushed individual data in the public domain and hence, there is mass data gathering, analysis and storage by the governments and private businesses. While the businesses use the data for commercial purposes, the governments have a responsibility of safeguarding sovereignty of the nation and protecting the people. This has led to the growing interest of governments and security agencies around the globe to develop sophisticated algorithms using the power of Big-Data, Machine-Learning and Artificial Intelligence to enable them to collect and store thousands of data points on every individual. However, this has led to a new debate about the basic human right of privacy which at times stands in contrast to such massive data collection and sharing.



  1. 1.The ‘common good’ outweighs personal preferences in many cases.
  2. 2.Due to rising threats through cyber-space it has become necessary for the government to keep an eye on the data for greater security of the nation.
  3. 3.Collection of data by big tech-giants might lead to monopolization and a new form of dependence might arise, hence, impacting the sovereignty of the nation.
  4. 4.To reduce the chances of terrorists entering our country, some loss of privacy and tighter security measures are required. Creating a wider security network via internet surveillance makes a much more effective security measure.
  5. 5.The wider net of national security measures can identify racially or religiously motivated criminals and act against them before harm is caused to others.



  1. 1.A person has the right to determine what sort of information about them is collected and how that information is used. Allowing organizations for data collection and inspection under the cloak of keeping people safe violates this right, instead of safeguarding it.
  2. 2.The government’s surveillance may not be always about increasing security. It can be used to avoid transparency, leading to the loss of basic human rights. Such questions came into picture when biometric information collection was done for generating Aadhar cards and they were made compulsory for availing services provided by the government.
  3. 3.In a democracy, governments keep on changing after elections. Hence, there are always chances of data being misused by the outgoing government for their interest in future or to influence how people vote. Such cases have already been seen in case of US which is a developed country and far more tech savvy than India is today.
  4. 4.In the seminal Justice K.S. Puttaswamy (Retd) vs. Union of India case, the Supreme Court of India ordered that the right to privacy is an intrinsic part of the right to life and personal freedom guaranteed by the Indian constitution. Hence, any violation of privacy stands in stark contrast to this fundamental right.



National security is critical and paramount to India’s prosperity. However, we need to maintain a fine balance between privacy of individual and state interest as none of them comes second in a democracy.  Although exceptional circumstances might arise where individual privacy takes a back seat to safeguard national security, it cannot be established as a norm in a country guided by the ideals of freedom, liberty and equality enshrined in the Constitution.