In the landmark case of Puttaswamy vs. Union of India, the Union’s lawyers argued against the demand to limit the use of the Aadhaar card to protect constitutional privacy rights of the citizens. Inter alia, they claimed that the word “privacy” is “so amorphous as to defy description”. The Supreme Court unanimously ruled against the Union. In their ruling, the judges cited Dr Allen’s philosophical and legal scholarship on privacy. “As an African American woman,” writes Dr Allen, “I was honored and surprised to learn that my scholarly writings about the meaning and fundamental value of privacy were cited favorably by the Supreme Court of India.” How the work of an American philosopher of law without ties to India came to bear on fundamental constitutional issues about privacy in this country is a story about jurisprudence, justice and transnational values in the digital age that is worth telling.
About the Speaker: Anita L. Allen, an expert on privacy and data protection law and ethics, is the Henry R. Silverman Professor of Law and Professor of Philosophy at the University of Pennsylvania. She is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and an elected member of the American Law Institute and the National Academy of Medicine. She served under President Obama as a member of his National Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues. For her pioneering privacy scholarship and advocacy, she has been recognized by the Alain Locke Society and by the Collegium of Black Women Philosophers. She is a graduate of Harvard Law School with a PhD in Philosophy from the University of Michigan.
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