Playing catch up: privacy regimes in South Asia

Authors: Smitha Krishna Prasad, Sharngan Aravindakshan


This article is an attempt to examine the growing consolidation and harmonisation of privacy and surveillance laws in the major SAARC member nations, as well as to take stock of South Asia’s emerging privacy jurisprudence. Driven by reactions to increasingly frequent data collection and profiling attempts by the government, as well as the side effects of growing digital markets, the privacy discourse in South Asia is evolving with a heightened awareness of privacy as a core fundamental right. At the same time, some governments in the region are also keen to explore the benefits of the digital economy, and are increasingly developing economic policies that focus on the use of data as a ‘resource’ for the State and the industry. Apart from outlining these developments, the article delves into and identifies the source of privacy rights in these countries, whether derived from the constitutions of the respective countries or otherwise provided for through specific legislation. The article traces and examines the legal architectures of privacy and surveillance in the region, including national profiling databases. It then zooms out to pinpoint possible trends and influences.

This paper was published in a special issue of the International Journal of Human Rights titled “The right to privacy in the digital age: Different perspectives around the globe”

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