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In a first, Modi govt uses ‘she, her’ to refer to all genders in draft data protection bill

This is 1st time ‘she’ & ‘her’ have been used to refer to all genders in draft legislation. Data protection bill will likely be tabled in Budget Session of Parliament next year.

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New Delhi: In a first for the Government of India, the draft data protection bill shared Friday for wider consultations, uses the pronouns “her” and “she” to describe individuals of all genders. Ashwini Vaishnaw, the minister for electronics and information technology, said the move is in line with the Modi government’s “philosophy of empowering women”.

A portion from the interpretation section of the draft bill reads: “In this Act, the pronouns “her” and “she” have been used for an individual, irrespective of gender.”

This means that the bill, instead of using “he” or “him” to refer to a “data principal” — an individual to whom the personal data relates — uses “she” and “her”. It also specifies that in the case where the “data principal” is a child, the pronouns will include the parents or lawful guardian of the child.

“We have attempted in the philosophy of women’s empowerment that Prime Minister Narendra Modi ji‘s government works to use the words she and her in the entire bill, instead of he, him and his. So this is an innovative thing which has been attempted in the bill,” Vaishnaw told reporters Friday.

The proposed legislation, that aims to establish a system wherein the digital personal data of an individual can be processed in a manner that recognises individuals’ right to protect their personal data, will be up for wider consultations till 17 December which is the last date for stakeholders to submit comments.

The draft bill, in its present form, relaxes cross-border data flows with “trusted nations”, builds a framework for entities to process personal data and envisions penalties as high as Rs 500 crores for non-compliance. Besides these, the draft bill introduces the formation of a data protection board and appointments of data protection officers who will be representatives of their respective organisations.

This draft of the Digital Personal Data Protection Bill, 2022 comes over three months after Union minister Vaishnaw withdrew a previous version of the bill on the floor of Parliament. The government, he had said at the time, was working on a larger legal framework.

Introduced in the Lok Sabha in December 2019, The Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019, sought to establish a Data Protection Authority to safeguard the personal data of individuals. The bill was referred to a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) which submitted a report to the Lower House in this regard on 16 December, 2021.

The revised draft data protection bill will likely be tabled during the Budget Session of Parliament next year.

(Edited by Amrtansh Arora)

Also Read: Modi govt again extends feedback deadline for telecom bill, list of concerns grow


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