What's the article about?
- It talks about the recently released revised version of the Personal Data Protection Bill.
- GS2: Government Policies and Interventions for Development in various sectors and Issues arising out of their Design and Implementation.
- The Union government released the revised version of the Digital Personal Data Protection Bill, 2022. for public comments.
- The bill's earlier version had numerous controversial provisions.
Some of the changes made in the latest version of the bill indicate a rethink on these provisions within the government:
- For instance, the revised Bill has dropped some of the more contentious rules that govern cross-border data flows after facing considerable opposition from Big Tech.
- The earlier version of the Bill had imposed stringent conditions on cross-border data flows. Companies were mandated to store a copy of “sensitive” personal data within India, while taking out “critical” personal data from the country was barred.
- The new draft makes a significant departure on this issue by not imposing any such requirements on firms. Companies do not have to store data exclusively in India.
- They can now transfer the data to countries which are listed by the government. However, on what basis the government chooses a particular country is not yet clear.
Some of the other aspects of the Bill, however, warrant greater introspection:
- Take for instance the proposal to set up a Data Protection Board.
- The board’s members and its chairperson will be appointed at the government’s discretion.
- This along with indications that the latest version ends up curtailing the board’s powers raise concerns over its independence.
- Equally contentious are the expansive exemptions that have been afforded to the government and its agencies with limited safeguards.
- By simple notifications, government agencies can be exempted from the Bill’s provisions on grounds of national security. At a time of government overreach, these arguably contentious provisions, which will vest greater power with government as opposed to an independent statutory authority, need to be reexamined.
- Thus, a new draft of the Data Protection Bill is a mixed bag with some positives and some negatives.