Over 100 drafting changes proposed to JPC on data protection bill

Updated on Sep 16, 2021 04:50 AM IST
The data protection authority’s ambit under section 49 has also been proposed to be expanded to include covering data breaches and not just personal data breaches, the person mentioned above added.
The bill will now be referred to as the data protection bill and not the personal data protection bill.
The bill will now be referred to as the data protection bill and not the personal data protection bill.
ByDeeksha Bhardwaj, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

The joint parliamentary committee on personal data protection, which met after a hiatus of nearly nine months, is looking at over 100 drafting changes introduced by the new chairperson and BJP MP PP Chaudhary. The committee has also agreed to circulate the draft report, penned under the chairpersonship of Meenakshi Lekhi, as a summary of proceedings, people familiar with the matter said.

“Most of the changes appear to be of a legislative drafting nature and majority of them seem cosmetic in nature,” a person familiar with the matter said, asking not to be named. “The panel will meet again on Thursday to discuss the bill clause by clause.”

The bill will now be referred to as the data protection bill and not the personal data protection bill. Under section 91, it allows the government to access non-personalised and anonymised data for policy purposes. The data protection authority’s ambit under section 49 has also been proposed to be expanded to include covering data breaches and not just personal data breaches, the person mentioned above added.

Chaudhary, a former Union minister of law and justice who took over barely two months ago, has offered his own suggestions in report with reference to a number of the clauses. On Wednesday, the panel touched upon the changes, while also seeking that the old draft report, which had been agreed upon by the panel, be circulated among the members.

The BJP MP took over from Meenakshi Lekhi, who had to step down as panel chair after she was appointed as a Union minister. The members in December last year had already agreed upon the amendments required to the bill but the report was never presented to Parliament on its due date in the Budget session. The draft report was then deferred to the monsoon session.

Hindustan Times on July 8 reported that the data privacy law faced new delays as several members of the parliamentary committee, including its head, were made ministers weeks before the crucial report was due during the Monsoon Session. Moreover, the four new members who have replaced the newly appointed union ministers —BJP MPs Rakesh Sinha, Vinay Sahashrabuddhe, Sudhanshu Trivedi and Aparajita Sarangi — will also be offered a chance to present their own views on the bill.

Members are concerned that with the process facing new hurdles, the data protection framework may see another delay. “The committee may end up examining a whole new report, the new members will also make their suggestions,” a second person familiar with the matter said, asking not to be named.

The draft Personal Data Protection law was introduced in Parliament in December 2019 and is meant to provide the legal framework for the right to privacy of Indian citizens. But it was soon referred to a Joint Parliamentary Committee to iron out several contentious issues. The committee has now sought until the winter session to submit its report.

The committee has met various stakeholders as it debates far reaching reforms for data protection. It has also carefully analysed the bill that covers cross border transfer of data and the use personal data by government and private companies. Provisions of the bill related to localization of data within the country and curbs on data sharing across borders have come in for criticism from global technology companies. But like many other countries in the world, India wants to ensure the data of its citizens is safe.

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Thursday, August 18, 2022
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