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State PCS

Mains Practice Questions

  • Q. With the increasing use of technology and data in governance, analyze the ethical challenges related to digital privacy and data security in the public sector. (150 words)

    14 Sep, 2023 GS Paper 4 Theoretical Questions


    • Begin your answer by providing context and a brief overview of the increasing use of technology and data in governance.
    • Enumerate and describe the primary ethical challenges related to digital privacy and data security in the public sector.
    • You can conclude by summarizing the key points of your answer and reiterate the importance of addressing these ethical challenges.


    Digital privacy and data security are two important ethical issues that arise with the increasing use of technology and data in governance. The public sector collects, processes, and shares various types of data from citizens, businesses, and other entities for various purposes, such as service delivery, policy making, law enforcement, and national security. However, these data practices also pose significant challenges to the rights and interests of the data subjects and the public at large.


    Some of the ethical challenges related to digital privacy and data security:

    • Invasion of Digital Privacy:
      • Data Collection and Surveillance: Governments often collect vast amounts of personal data from citizens for various purposes such as public services, law enforcement, and health management. The indiscriminate collection and surveillance of personal data raise concerns about the violation of individual privacy.
      • Social Profiling: The use of advanced data analytics and algorithms can lead to social profiling, where individuals are categorized based on their online behavior and personal information. This profiling can result in discrimination and biased decision-making.
    • Data Security:
      • Cybersecurity Vulnerabilities: The public sector is a prime target for cyberattacks due to the sensitivity of the data it holds. Ensuring robust cybersecurity measures is essential to safeguard citizens' data. Ethical concerns arise when governments fail to adequately protect this data.
      • Data Breaches: Incidents of data breaches, where sensitive information is exposed, can have severe consequences for individuals. Ethical dilemmas arise when governments are found responsible for such breaches, leading to a breach of trust.
    • Transparency and Accountability:
      • Lack of Transparency: The opacity surrounding data collection, storage, and usage by government agencies can lead to suspicions of abuse or misuse of data. Ensuring transparency in these processes is vital for building trust.
      • Accountability Deficits: When data misuse occurs in the public sector, holding individuals or agencies accountable can be challenging due to the complexity of government hierarchies. Ethical concerns arise when those responsible for data breaches or privacy violations go unpunished.
    • Biometrics and Emerging Technologies:
      • Biometric Data: The use of biometrics for identification purposes can enhance security but raises ethical concerns regarding the potential misuse of such personal data.
      • Artificial Intelligence (AI): The deployment of AI in public sector operations can lead to ethical dilemmas related to bias in algorithms and decision-making processes. Ensuring fairness and equity is a significant challenge.


    The increasing use of technology and data in governance presents significant ethical challenges related to digital privacy and data security in the public sector. Addressing these ethical challenges requires comprehensive legislation, transparent policies, cybersecurity investments, and ongoing scrutiny to ensure that the benefits of digital governance are realized while safeguarding citizens' rights and privacy. The Digital Personal Data Protection Act of 2023 establishes a framework for the processing of personal data in India is a significant step in this direction.

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