The Centre on Wednesday withdrew the long-awaited Personal Data Protection (PDP) Bill, 2019 to replace it with a new bill with a ‘comprehensive framework’ and ‘contemporary digital privacy laws’.
The PDP bill was first introduced in Lok Sabha on December 11, 2019. The bill was referred to Joint Parliamentary Committee, which tabled its report in Lok Sabha on December 16, 2021. The committee proposed a single law for dealing with both personal and non-personal datasets. The report was also under dispute as it suggested moving towards complete localisation of data.
"The government will bring a set of new legislation for a comprehensive legal framework for the digital economy," IT Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw, who moved for the withdrawal of the Bill in the House, told PTI.
The withdrawn Bill had proposed restrictions on the use of personal data without the explicit consent of citizens. It had also sought to provide the government with powers to give exemptions to its probe agencies from the provisions of the Act, a move that was strongly opposed by the opposition MPs who had filed their dissent notes.
A statement containing the reasons for the withdrawal was circulated to the members of Lok Sabha. Reportedly the statement included that the government was working on a comprehensive legal framework considering 81 amendments and 12 recommendations proposed by the JPC.
After the Bill was withdrawn, Minister of State for IT Rajeev Chandrashekhar tweeted that this will soon be replaced by a comprehensive framework of global standard laws including digital privacy laws for contemporary and future challenges and catalyse Prime Minister Narendra Modi's vision.
He said the JCP report on the Personal Data protection bill had identified many issues that were relevant but beyond the scope of a modern Digital Privacy law.
He added that privacy is a fundamental right of Indian citizens and having a trillion-dollar Digital Economy requires global standard cyber laws.
“This will soon be replaced by a comprehensive framework of global standard laws, including digital privacy laws, for contemporary and future challenges and catalyse PM Narendra Modi’s vision of India Techade,” Chandrasekhar said.
The withdrawn data protection Bill had also proposed the setting up of a Data Protection Authority.
It had also proposed to specify the flow and usage of personal data, protect the rights of individuals whose personal data are processed, as it works out the framework for the cross-border transfer, accountability of entities processing data, and moots remedies for unauthorised and harmful processing.