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Govt withdraws Data Protection Bill after 81 amendments, to bring in fresh legislation

The proposed legislation had evoked concerns over the attempt to govern non-personal data, and the possibility that social media platforms would be held responsible for what users posted.

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New Delhi: The government on Wednesday withdrew the Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019 after nearly five years of work and is now looking at a new legislation that “fits into the comprehensive legal framework”.

Union Information and Technology Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said Wednesday: “The Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019 was deliberated in great detail by the Joint Committee of Parliament. 81 amendments were proposed and 12 recommendations were made towards comprehensive legal framework on digital ecosystem. Considering the report of the JCP, a comprehensive legal framework is being worked upon. Hence, in the circumstances, it is proposed to withdraw ‘The Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019’ and present a new bill that fits into the comprehensive legal framework.”

The ministry said the scrapped bill would soon be replaced by “a comprehensive framework of global standard laws, including digital privacy laws for contemporary and future challenges”.

After the Supreme Court recognised the right to privacy as a fundamental right in 2017, the government appointed retired Supreme Court Justice B.N. Srikrishna as head of a committee to study and recommend a draft data protection bill. The Srikrishna Committee submitted its recommendations in 2018.

The IT ministry then tabled the Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019, in Parliament. This had changes that made it substantially different from the Srikrishna Committee’s recommendations, with Justice Srikrishna himself calling it “Orwellian”.

In 2020, a Joint Parliamentary Committee with members from both Houses was appointed to study the bill. It submitted its recommendations in December 2021.

The committee’s recommendations received “sustained criticism” from stakeholders in India and abroad. This included concerns over the attempt to govern non-personal data under a bill originally intended just for personal data, and the possibility that social media platforms would be held responsible for what users posted.


Also read: Privacy, consent, data — what Delhi govt ignores when giving parents live classroom footage


 

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