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News18 » Tech
5-min read

India’s Personal Data Protection Bill is Heading For Review: Everything You Must Know

The Personal Data Protection Bill addresses the urgent need to regulate how a user’s data is collected, processed, protected and deleted.

Vishal Mathur | @vishalmathur85

Updated:December 11, 2019, 3:43 PM IST
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India’s Personal Data Protection Bill is Heading For Review: Everything You Must Know
The Personal Data Protection Bill addresses the urgent need to regulate how a user’s data is collected, processed, protected and deleted.

The Personal Data Protection Bill 2019 is very much in focus in this parliament session. The Government has proposed to send the draft Personal Data Protection Bill to a proposed Joint Parliamentary Committee for review. The bill has been introduced in the Lok Sabha by the government today. “Introduced the Personal Data Protection Bill in Lok Sabha today. This is a historic legislation which seeks to protect personal data and privacy of Indian citizens in digital age,” said Ravi Shankar Prasad, the Minister of Electronics and Information Technology, in a tweet.

The two important definitions that this bill clarifies from the outset are data and data fiduciary. “Data means and includes a representation of information, facts, concepts, opinions, or instructions in a manner suitable for communication, interpretation, or processing by humans or by automated means. Data fiduciary means any person, including the State, a company, any juristic entity or any individual who alone or in conjunction with others determines the purpose and means of processing of personal data,” says the Personal Data Protection Bill. The bill also says, “Personal data means data about or relating to a natural person who is directly or indirectly identifiable, having regard to any characteristic, trait, attribute or any other feature of the identity of such natural person, or any combination of such features, or any combination of such features with any other information.”

According to the bill, the data protection obligations say that personal data shall be processed only for purposes that are clear, specific and lawful and that “shall be processed only for purposes specified or for any other incidental purpose that the data principal would reasonably expect the personal data to be used for, having regard to the specified purposes, and the context and circumstances in which the personal data was collected” from the very outset. “Data Sovereignty in India became a huge concern especially with introduction of Aadhar card, which provided a unique identity to Indian citizens and the way Aadhar number got linked to different accounts such as bank accounts, phone numbers, cooking gas account and many more accounts. While this was a great step towards centralizing the citizen identity, is also led to multiple fraud activities,” says Rajpreet Kaur, Principal Analyst, Gartner.

“With there being constant news about how user data has been compromised / misused by people with malicious intent, there is an increasing need to have proper guidelines in place to secure confidential data. We welcome the initiative by the Government of India to table the data protection bill in the current session of parliament. The bill is expected to spell out a framework, which would include the processing of personal and private data by public and private entities,” says Bhavin Turakhia, Founder & CEO, Flock. Flock is a communication platform and allows users to collaborate for project management and more. “This bill will help India and its citizens to fight threats and safeguard our country’s data integrity, sovereignty and security,” says Ramesh Mamgain, Area Vice President India and SAARC Region from Commvault, a data management company. At present, there are no data laws that govern the collection policies and safeguarding of personal data and no penalties that can be deployed in case an entity misuses the data they collect.

The bill also says that anyone collecting the data shall at that time itself clarify the purpose for which the data is being collected, what categories of a user’s data are being collected, the right of the user to withdraw consent for sharing of the data or it being used for processing as well as the period for which the data that has been collected will be retained.

“By viewing the data as sensitive, critical and general as against putting it all in one bucket, the government will enable users to have a seamless digital experience while knowing that the data will be processed, stored and protected under a strict lawful guideline,” says Neelesh Kripalani, Senior Vice President and Head, Center of Excellence, Clover Infotech.

The Data Protection Bill also states that a data fiduciary must take all steps to ensure that personal data that is processed is complete, accurate, not misleading, updated and must have some regard to the purposes for which it is processed in the first place. If the collected data will be shared with a third party or be shared for further processing, that has to be disclosed to the individuals the data is being collected from, at the time of collection. The data can also be kept only for the duration that the data serves a purpose for the task it was originally collected for. The data fiduciary must carry out periodic reviews to check whether they even need the data or certain parts of that data anymore. In case some data is not required, then it must be deleted as per the guidelines.

If non-sensitive personal data safeguard terms are violated, then the penalty will be up to Rs 5crore or 2 percent of the annual turnover, whichever is more. If anyone collecting data is found to be violating the safeguards for sensitive personal data which includes transfer of personal data outside the geographical borders of India and processing a child’s personal data without specific consent, will be liable for a penalty of up to Rs 15crore or 4 percent of the total worldwide turnover, whichever is more. “This personal data protection bill which is quite similar to GDPR should put an end to such malpractices around personal and private data. Enterprises and service providers already following the GDPR guidelines are today in good shape already,” adds Kaur. “In addition, a complete restriction on transfer of sensitive personal data and a framework for restrictive transfer of other personal data outside India will boost data sovereignty and push the data processing and storage demands in the country,” says Sunil Gupta, Managing Partner & CEO, Yotta Infrastructure.

It was in July last year that the Justice BN Srikrishna-led committee submitted its draft bill to the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITY). The idea being simple—to create a powerful data protection law in India. The draft was finalized after a year of consultations with various stakeholders and came just after the European Union General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came into force in May last year. The Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019 is important because of the urgent need to regulate the otherwise how a user’s data is protected, be it for online platforms, apps, social networks or even online services including by the government.

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