The Personal Data Protection Bill will be tabled in the ongoing Winter Session of parliament in the next few days, after it was cleared today by a Union Cabinet meeting headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The bill will make the right to privacy an absolute one, subject to concerns. This will mean that the data protection authority to be established to oversee implementation will be allowed to monitor, intercept and read data citing national security.
The bill will also regulate the collection, storage and processing of personal data by government and private agencies, and enforce penalties and compensation for possible misuse. In addition it will also have a code of conduct and an enforcement model.
The proposed legislation could also impact companies operating in the country, even if they do not have a physical presence, due to data localisation requirements and cross-border data transfer restrictions.
Another feature of the proposed bill is safeguards regarding the reporting of data breach; this is significant given the controversy surrounding the Pegasus malware that led to a massive privacy breach among WhatsApp users.
Concerns over data localisation were earlier raised by US President Donald Trump. US firms like Google, MasterCard, Visa and Amazon have lobbied against data localisation rules around the world including India.
India's view is that data should be discussed within the World Trade Organization (WTO) context. "Data also needs to take into account the requirements of developing countries," Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale said in June.
That sentiment was repeated by Prime Minister Modi in September, when he visited the US during his 'Howdy, Modi!' tour.
The bill, originally titled Personal Data Protection Bill 2018, has been prepared by an expert panel headed by former Supreme Court Justice BN Srikrishna, and is based on similar laws passed by the European Union.
Prakash Javadekar, Union Minister for Information & Broadcasting, confirmed the bill had been cleared but did not provide details; he said those would be first discussed in parliament.
With input from IANS, PTI