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Union Cabinet Approves Data Protection Bill: What Does the This Bill Contain?

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New Delhi, July 5, 2023 - The Union Cabinet has given its approval to the long-awaited Data Protection Bill, marking a significant step towards safeguarding personal data in India. The bill, which aims to address concerns regarding data privacy and security, will be presented during the upcoming monsoon session of Parliament for consideration and passage.

The bill, initially introduced in November of the previous year, underwent multiple rounds of public consultation to gather feedback and incorporate suggestions from various stakeholders. Based on the received feedback, a second draft was prepared and subsequently underwent inter-ministerial discussions.

The jurisdiction of the bill extends to the processing of digital personal data in India, regardless of whether it was collected online or offline and later digitized. Furthermore, the bill applies to the processing of data outside of India if it involves offering goods or services or profiling individuals within the country.

One of the key provisions of the bill is that personal data can only be processed for lawful purposes with the explicit consent of the individual. In certain cases, consent may be implied. Data fiduciaries, including private and government entities, are required to ensure the accuracy and security of the data and delete it once its purpose has been fulfilled.

To enforce compliance with the bill, the government will establish the Data Protection Board of India. However, concerns have been raised regarding the exemptions granted to government agencies for data processing on grounds such as national security, as it may potentially infringe upon the right to privacy.

Furthermore, there are concerns about the differential treatment of private and government entities regarding consent and storage limitations, which raises questions about the right to equality.

The bill also grants individuals certain rights, including the right to access information, request corrections and deletions, and seek redressal for grievances. These rights are seen as essential for empowering individuals and ensuring their control over their personal data.

The Digital Personal Data Protection Bill has been a subject of interest and debate within the tech and privacy communities. It has gained significant attention from social media and technology companies, as it calls for stringent provisions regarding data protection, sharing, and storage.

The bill's journey began in 2018 when a special expert committee, led by Justice B.N. Srikrishna, formulated the draft legislation. After being presented by the central government in 2019, it was referred to the Joint Parliamentary Committee in December 2021, allowing for the incorporation of recommendations into a revised version.

As the bill progresses through the parliamentary proceedings, there will be close scrutiny to ensure that the concerns raised by privacy advocates are adequately addressed. Its passage during the monsoon session of Parliament will have far-reaching implications for data protection and privacy rights in India.

Minister of Electronics & Information Technology, Ashwini Vaishnaw, has confirmed that the Digital Personal Data Protection Bill, along with the Telecom Bill, is likely to be tabled during the upcoming session. The government's commitment to strengthening data privacy and security in the country is expected to drive the discussions surrounding the bill in Parliament.


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