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Vol. 18 Issue 2 (2022)

Data Privacy And Elections In India: Microtargeting The Unseen Collective

Sayantan Chanda

In India, the usage of social media to reach hundreds of millions of active online users is common across political parties. With revelations regarding data mining being undertaken by political parties across the world, there is a need for robust data privacy not only to protect individuals, but also to ensure free and fair elections. In this context, the importance of the data collected lies in the inferences it allows a data fiduciary to draw about the person whose data is collected. Access to private details, through mining of online data from social networks and other sources, allows individuals to be aggregated into unseen collectives, purely on the basis of specific data points, and for them to be given targeted and even false messages. Most importantly, this is a problem on a societal scale, as micro targeting occurs across large groups of people and not merely at the individual level. Thus, the individual centric focus of data privacy law is insufficient when the target of manipulation is not one individual, but entire groups or collectives of people.
This paper will highlight how both the Data Privacy Bills as introduced by the Indian Government in 2019 and 2022, fail to account for the collective privacy of citizens and how the rights provided do not address the problem of inferences. To that end, a move away from individual privacy and toward collective privacy will be proposed which can protect individuals who are assimilated unknowingly into collectives that are based on mined data.


Judicial Law Clerk-cum-Legal Researcher at the Supreme Court of India.
Undergraduate law degree from O.P. Jindal Global Law School

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