Hon’ble Member of Parliament, Mr. NinongEring will move a Bill in the parliament for the upcoming Budget session, starting from 31st January 2019, on data protection and privacy, titled “Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019”. The Bill is an evolution from the Government’s draft PDP Bill, 2018 and seeks to address certain fundamental issues that are imperative for India to emerge as world leader in the digital economy space.

The Bill seeks to codify and safeguard the right to privacy for all juristic persons in the digital age, balanced with the need for data protection in the interests of national security. Since right to privacy has been recognised as a fundamental right emerging primarily from Article 21 of the Constitution, in Justice K.S. Puttuswamy ( Retd. ) v. Union of India and to make this right meaningful, it is necessary to put in place a data protection framework which serves the common good.

Key Features are as follows:

Checks and Balances for Legal Surveillance in India

This present Bill recognises a need for judicial safeguards and Parliamentary oversight for agencies to carry out surveillance in India. Therefore, this Bill includes a full chapter on regulation of surveillance focusing on making the agencies accountable with regular monitoring and evaluation of their tasks. This Bill makes the state liable for unaccounted surveillance and at the same time give the right to the data principal to assert his contention before appropriate authority.

Free-flow of data across borders

Internet is borderless in nature and any attempt to stifle or curb this feature, by creating artificial walls to prevent data from flowing in and out of multiple jurisdiction, may lead India on the path of creating its own ‘splinternet’. The Bill recognises the need for allowing cross-border data flow and removes the barriers.

Security and Transparency

While collection and processing of data is important, there is an overwhelming need to secure personal data and ensure better security by creating a statutory obligation to safeguard data and individuals in order to counter the potential for discrimination, exclusion and harm likely in a digital economy. The Bill seeks to establish, a balance between rights of individuals and legitimate intervention by the State.This bill also introduces the right of data principal not to be subjected to automated data processing.

Data Protection Authority

Data Protection Authority has been reconstituted at Regional and Central level seeing the amount of complaints that may come and also provides ease of access for the complainants. Further to this, the Bill places necessary judicial oversight at both the level working with the experts and stakeholders.

Privacy as a culture

For the purposes of enhancing the autonomy of individuals with regard to their personal data, the Bill seeks to develop a regulatory framework where the existing inequality in bargaining power between individuals and entities is mitigated. The Bill also seeks to create a collective culture that fosters a free and fair digital economy, respecting the informational privacy of individuals, and ensuring empowerment, progress and innovation.

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