Draft data protection bill may affect provisions of RTI Act
The draft Personal Data Protection Bill, 2018 seeks to amend the RTI Act’s Section 8(1)(j), which states that personal information that doesn’t serve “public activity or interest” cannot be disclosed unless it is deemed to be of public interest.Updated: Jul 28, 2018 08:26 IST
Provisions in the landmark draft bill on data protection submitted by the justice BN Srikrishna committee to the government on Friday could have an impact on some other key laws, including the Right To Information (RTI) Act.
“... disclosure of information from public authorities may lead to private harms being caused. It is thus important to recognise that, in this context, there is a conflict of fundamental rights, between transparency and privacy,” the committee’s report says.
The draft Personal Data Protection Bill, 2018 seeks to amend the RTI Act’s Section 8(1)(j), which states that personal information that doesn’t serve “public activity or interest” cannot be disclosed unless it is deemed to be of public interest. In other words, personal information can be sought under RTI if it is found to serve a public cause.
Activists say such a provision can be cited to deny public information. Anjali Bharadwaj, a co-convener of the National Campaign for People’s Right to Information, said: “With the kind of rampant corruption, people are unable to avail basic entitlements. Now somebody might say this is personal data, and refuse to share it. ... this Bill could have a very retrograde effect.”
Former chief information commissioner MM Ansari said the amendment suggested by the Srikrishna committee is inconsequential, as the present RTI Act already protects personal information. “Under the RTI Act, personal information and data are already protected. The disclosure of any information which has no public interest and which has no bearing on any public activity is not allowed,” said Ansari.
First Published: Jul 28, 2018 07:36 IST