The government is studying the inputs received on the draft data protection bill, and will carefully ensure that any legislation in the digital ecosystem will act as an enabler, fuelling the growth momentum, Minister of State for IT Rajeev Chandrasekhar said on Thursday.
The government remains “clear” and “steadfast” on the need for the bill, Chandrasekhar said on the sidelines of ‘NIC Tech Conclave 2022’ event. “As far as government is concerned, it is very clear, steadfast, we would like a data protection bill. We are at the current moment studying the bill, and also, as is the norm, we will look at every input we get post the report that has come to the ministry. So we are studying all of those inputs,” Chandrasekhar said.
Asked if the bill is likely to come up during the Budget session, the minister declined to specify any timeline. “We would rather come up with legislations that are future proof and that are catalyst and create more fuel to startup success, rather than go by an artificial timeline, and create problems for our entrepreneurs and startups going forward,” he said. Every effort will be made to ensure that any law that comes up in the digital ecosystem will be an enabling legislation.
“So we are extremely careful that whatever legislation we do in digital ecosystem will be enabling legislation…legislation that improves the momentum of growth of digital economy rather than create any problems going down the road,” he said. The draft data protection bill — currently in the works — seeks to provide for the protection of the personal data of individuals and establish a Data Protection Authority for the same. It proposes to put restrictions on the use of personal data without the explicit consent of citizens.
On December 16, 2021, the Joint Committee on Personal Data Protection Bill had tabled its report in both the Houses of Parliament, giving its views on various provisions. The bill proposes to specify the flow and usage of personal data, protect the rights of individuals whose personal data are processed, as it works out the framework for the cross-border transfer, accountability of entities processing data, and moots remedies for unauthorised and harmful processing.
It also seeks to provide the government with powers to give exemptions to its probe agencies from the provisions of the legislation, a move that has been strongly opposed by the opposition MPs who had filed their dissent notes. In December, the parliamentary panel had recommended tougher norms to regulate social media platforms by holding them accountable for the content they host. It had said the Centre must ensure data localisation norms are duly followed by all local and foreign entities, with the establishment of the Data Protection Authority.
The panel had also recommended widening the scope of the legislation to include both personal and non-personal data with “a single administration and regulatory body”, and sought greater accountability for social media platforms by treating them as ‘publishers’.