Data privacy bill sooner rather than later: FM Nirmala Sitharaman

According to the minister, the new bill would be comprehensive enough to cover all difficulties because it had been discussed with both Indian and foreign specialists.

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Despite withdrawing an earlier version, India will introduce a new data privacy bill “sooner rather than later,” Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman stated on September 7.

“I would credit the minister for having been very open about withdrawing the bill which was in the parliament which was felt not addressing all issues,” Sitharaman said while speaking at the India Ideas Summit organised by the US-India Business Council.

“And he has assured that soon enough we will have the new data privacy bill which will be a product of consultations and will address every such concern most of us have had on the privacy bill,” she added.

According to the minister, the new bill would be comprehensive enough to cover all difficulties because it had been discussed with both Indian and foreign specialists.

The Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019, which had come under fire from privacy experts for appearing to be more in the government’s interest than defending privacy, which the Supreme Court had deemed to be a basic right, was withdrawn by the Center on August 3.

Following a Joint Parliamentary Committee report, a comprehensive legal framework was being worked on, and a new law will be tabled that would fit within the comprehensive legal framework, according to Electronics and Information Technology Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw.

An expert panel led by former Supreme Court Justice BN Srikrishna first wrote the Personal Data Protection Bill in 2018. A draught of the Bill was presented by the Center in the Lok Sabha in 2019; in December of that same year, it was referred to the Joint Parliamentary Committee. Both personal and non-personal data were covered by the measure, and a Data Protection Authority would be in charge of handling them.

The bill’s original mandate only applied to personal data, therefore the decision to include non-personal data in its purview was met with strong opposition.

According to Srikrishna, the public must be given first priority under data protection regulations.