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India’s Supreme Court Affirms Constitutional Right to Privacy

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FILE - An operator helps an elderly woman scan her fingerprints as she enrolls for Aadhar, India's unique identification project in Kolkata, India, May 16, 2012. India's top court has ruled that the right to privacy is a fundamental right of every citizen of the country.

India’s Supreme Court ruled Thursday that the country’s citizens have a constitutional right to privacy.

The unanimous ruling by a nine-judge panel came in response to legal challenges to the government’s biometric identification card program that requires people to undergo fingerprint and iris scans.

More than 1 billion people have signed up for the program, which was set up with the intention of streamlining government services and cutting fraud. But concerns emerged about the safety of the data, and the cards have become required for a growing number of services such as opening a bank account.

The government had argued that India’s constitution does not guarantee individuals a right to privacy.

The court rejected that stance, saying in its judgment that “the right to privacy is protected as an intrinsic part of the right to life and personal liberty” under the constitution.

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