Centre withdraws Personal Protection Bill after Parliamentary Committee suggests 81 changes

The Bill seeks to establish a Data Protection Authority and also proposes to put restrictions on the use of personal data without explicit consent.

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The Personal Data Protection Bill, which seeks to provide for the protection of the personal data of individuals, was withdrawn by the government on Wednesday after a Parliamentary Committee suggested 81 changes in it. 

In a statement, Vaishnaw said, “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 Bill seeks to establish a Data Protection Authority and also proposes to put restrictions on the use of personal data without the explicit consent of citizens. On December 16, 2021, the Joint Committee on Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019, tabled its report in both the Houses of Parliament, giving its views on various provisions. 

The Bill has been seeking Parliament’s nod for the past several years. In 2019, the Bill had been sent to the Parliamentary Committee after it faced protests from the Congress and TMC along others who alleged that the data protection bill violated fundamental rights of citizens. Civil society groups had also criticised the open-ended exceptions given to the government in the Bill, allowing for surveillance.

New Delhi-based privacy advocacy group Internet Freedom Foundation had said the bill "provides large exemptions to government departments, prioritises the interests of big corporations, and does not adequately respect your fundamental right to privacy".

According to reports, the Centre is working on a comprehensive legal framework that will work on a new Bill, taking the report of the joint parliamentary committee into consideration. 

The proposed law reportedly would have required large social media platforms to offer an identity-verification option, a potentially precedent-setting effort to rein in the spread of "fake news".

The requirement would likely raise a host of technical and policy issues for companies including Facebook and its WhatsApp and Instagram units, Twitter, among others, all of which have millions of users in India.


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