The Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019, was withdrawn by the Center on August 3; a replacement Bill will be introduced.
The Joint Parliamentary committee’s members were informed by Minister of Electronics and Information Technology Ashwini Vaishnaw of her decision to withdraw due to the 81 revisions and 12 recommendations made “toward a comprehensive legal framework.”
“A thorough legislative framework is being developed in light of the JCP’s report. Therefore, it is suggested that “The Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019″ be withdrawn in light of the current situation and replaced with a new bill that adheres to the overall legislative framework.”
Meity MoS Rajeev Chandrasekhar claimed in a tweet that the JCP report had identified issues that were important but outside the purview of current privacy laws. “Indian citizens have a fundamental right to privacy, and a trillion dollar digital economy necessitates global standard cyber laws,” he said.
An expert committee led by Justice BN Srikrishna originally drafted the Personal Data Protection Bill in 2018. A draught of the Bill was presented by the Center in the Lok Sabha in 2019; in December of that same year, it was referred to the Joint Parliamentary Committee. After six delays, the committee’s findings was presented to Parliament in December 2021.
A Data Protection Authority would be responsible for handling both personal and non-personal data under the most recent iteration of the bill.
The Bill’s prior mandate was restricted to personal data, and the decision to include non-personal data in its purview was met with strong opposition.
The Bill also confused matters by including social media and non-personal data in its purview while simultaneously exempting the government from the Act’s reach, a decision that drew criticism from seven ministers.
The bill received criticism from privacy experts because they believed it was more in the government’s interest than it was to preserve privacy, which the Supreme Court declared to be a basic right in 2017.
Amar Patnaik, a Rajya Sabha MP and member of the JPC committee told Moneycontrol that he supported the withdrawal of the Draft in its current form and hoped that the new bill will address their concerns.
Since the bill has been in development for five years, the plan is unclear, but since the process is being restarted, it needs to be accelerated, according to Prasanth Sugathan, legal director of SFLC.in, who told Moneycontrol: “However, this should not be at the expense of proper consultations with all stakeholders.
A legal framework for data protection is urgently needed because the digital economy has already reached a turning point.
The Dialogue’s founding director, Kazim Rizvi, stated that the withdrawal appears to show that the government has taken notice of complaints and that it now presents an opportunity to develop comprehensive legislation that considers both business and consumer interests.