Data Protection Bill: Simplified

A lot has been talked about the Data Protection Bill. However, there are certain areas, that need a clear understanding. Here's simplifying the bill for you!

The Personal Data Protection Bill 2019 has been making headlines quite often and has been very much in focus in the current session of the Parliament. The Union Government has proposed to share the draft of the Personal Data Protection Bill to a proposed Joint Parliamentary Committee for review. 

The Bill just got introduced on Wednesday in the Lok Sabha. Union Minister of Electronics and Information Technology, Ravi Shankar Prasad tweeted, “Introduced the Personal Data Protection Bill in Lok Sabha today. This is a historic legislation which seeks to protect personal data and privacy of Indian citizens in digital age.”

Here’s simplifying all that you need to know:

Personal data shall be processed only for purposes that are clear, specific and lawful and that “shall be processed only for purposes specified or for any other incidental purpose that the data principal would reasonably expect the personal data to be used for, having regard to the specified purposes, and the context and circumstances in which the personal data was collected.”

Twitter Reacts

Experts Say

Justice BN Srikrishna, who was leading the committee that drafted the Personal Data Protection Bill (PDP), said that the Bill is “dangerous” and can turn India into an “Orwellian State”. That is to say that the Government is capable of exempting its agencies from rules that govern the processing of personal data citing national security, public order and friendly relations with foreign states.

Srikrishna even stated that the Bill might turn into an ‘Orwellian State’. The term ‘Orwellian’ was coined by George Orwell in his novel ‘Nineteen Eighty Four’. This is to denote a draconian control of its poeple by a state. 

While the Personal Data Protection Bill 2019 addresses the issue of informed consent, it only states that the data fiduciary must process data in a ‘fair and reasonable manner that respects the privacy of the individual’. The Bill does not specify what constitutes ‘fair and reasonable’, leaving room for the potential violation of privacy. For instance, the unsaid power dynamic on the field between data collection personnel and respondents, especially in difficult-to-reach rural settings, complicates what ‘fair and reasonable’ is. In contexts like these, respondents often feel obliged to offer consent. For the Bill to be contextually relevant, an umbrella consent provision may not be the most suitable way forward.”

This came from Swapnil Shekhar, Co-founder & Director, Sambodhi Research and Communications

However, here’s a positive comment

The PDP Bill implies that Indian citizens have control of personal data. Technically, this is India’s first step towards a privacy framework for the governance of personal data. 

PDP’s Importance

All the points analysed before and all expert opinions taken into consideration, the Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019 is important due to the urgent need to keep a tab on how a user’s data is protected, inclusive of all online platforms, apps, social networks and even the online services given by the Government. 

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