Right to Information v. Right to Privacy

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There are two important rights that most of us may be aware of. The Right to Information and the Right to privacy are those rights. And, these two are always at loggerheads with each other. Why is that?

Every citizen has a right to impart and receive information as part of his right to know. The state is not only under the obligation to respect this right of the citizen but equally under an obligation to ensure conditions under which this right can be meaningful and effectively enjoyed by one and all. But, this often overlaps with the Right to privacy. We need to be highlighted about the different means to preserve the Right to Privacy without infringing the Freedom of Expression granted by the constitution. We need the right laws and we need to frame ideas that would help strike a balance between safeguarding one’s personal information while also letting people express without unreasonable barriers i.e., a balance in defamation laws. Taking into account the relative weight of Right to know and Right to privacy, each institution should organize itself with an approved set of rules governing these two aspects. How can it be done?

Being part of a society often overrides the fact that we are individuals first. Each individual needs his/her private space for whichever activity (assuming here that it shall be legal). The state accordingly should give each individual that right to enjoy those private moments with those whom they want to without the prying eyes of the rest of the world. Clinton Rossiter has said that privacy is a special kind of independence which can be understood as an attempt to secure autonomy in at least a few personal and spiritual concerns.  The individual does not want to share his thoughts with the world and this right will help protect his interests. He is a free man here.

Whereas Right to know laws should serve fundamental liberty and autonomy interest. They should be strictly implied in cases where there the individuals need to be provided with knowledge of the risk involved in their choice and be allowed to decide whether or not to encounter these risks. When there arises a circumstance where the citizens should be equipped with more legal information to participate on a more equal footing in regulating entities permitting, land use and other political decisions, the Right to know overtakes the Right to privacy and it should be mandatory for the concerned institution to frame its own codes of law that would give all the information necessary.   Local resident and a member of the public can exert pressure on the firm to reduce risky activities or eliminate unnecessary toxic exposures. Right to know laws should be imposed privately through the published rules and regulations of independent institutions to improve health and safety, by facilitating emergency planning, avoiding accidents, and helping the government determine the area in need of additional regulation. They also provide a strong incentive for the firm to undertake self-regulation and reduce risky activities; when companies face a choice between, say, disclosing harmful substances in their product and reformulating the product to eliminating the harmful substances, often they chose to eliminate the substances.

Instead of bringing out amendments in common defamation laws that govern all the cases and issues as a whole, we can focus on how every institution could re-organize itself with self-imposed rules governing the Right to know and Right to privacy so as to suit their respective functioning and circumstances and get it authorized.

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