RIGHT TO PRIVACY IN THE LIGHT OF DATA MONETISATION BY E-COMMERCE COMPANIES: ISSUES AND CHALLENGES WITH RESPECT TO INDIA
Assistant Professor (Law), Chotanagpur Law College, Ranchi University, Ranchi, Jharkhand.
In Justice K.S. Puttaswamy (Retd) and Another v. Union of India, the Supreme Court of India recognised the Right to Privacy as a guaranteed Fundamental Right and one of the facets of Article 21 of the Constitution of India. The court took cognisance that the right to privacy is violated in varied ways and circumstances. One such violation mostly goes unnoticed when committed by e-commerce companies. To understand their customers, e-commerce companies collect their information in the form of their choices, likes, dislikes, etc. This collected information is called Data. Companies use the collected data to create new business opportunities and increase revenue. This process is called Data monetisation and can be done directly or indirectly. Companies nowadays have access to the vast amount of data that e-commerce companies use to generate profits in the market. Data collected, stored and analysed is used to target customers to know the prevailing market needs and how business can be expanded or also by selling the data collected to third parties in raw form.
In the absence of any concrete legal framework for data protection from these e-commerce companies in India, these companies operate of their own free will and collect data from vast volumes of Indian consumers. However, this practice leads to latent violations of an individual’s “right to privacy”. Consumers, while buying products and services from e-commerce companies, knowingly or unknowingly, give a lot of data to the companies which they use to collect personal information, financial information, their choices, preferences, etc., so that this data can further be collected, stored, analysed by e-commerce companies to monetise their business activities. They deliver innovative products to their consumers through data monetisation and gain revenue.
Therefore, this paper explores the concept of individuals’ right to privacy in light of data monetisation by e-commerce companies and examines how data monetisation infringes individuals’ right to privacy. The present legislation in India does not give vital protection to the e-consumers concerning privacy matters in online transactions. The right to privacy of e-consumers should be protected in the light of Fundamental rights being guaranteed to them in the Constitution of India under Article 21.
Keywords: Fundamental Rights, Privacy, Data monetisation, e-commerce companies.
 (2017) 10 SCC 1