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Over 150 citizens from various walks of life have demanded that the draft bill on data protection should be made available in the public domain as per established democratic practices.
In a letter to IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on July 17, the citizens raised concerns over the functioning of the expert panel drafting the legislation and alleged that policy framework for data protection is being developed by overriding established democratic practices.
"We request you to make public the draft Data Protection Bill circulated by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, which is being considered by the Committee," the citizens demanded.
They alleged that there was lack of diversity in the composition of the committee with respect to their opinions on key issues.
It is also deeply disappointing that the chairperson chose not to exercise his right to co-opt other members into the committee to make it more balanced, they said.
The citizens who have written the letter to Prasad come from varied backgrounds. They include lawyers, social activists, anthropologists, researchers and professors.
"Any draft legislation along with the recommendations subsequently being considered by the Government of India be placed in the public domain for 30 days to invite comments before it is sent to the Cabinet.
"A clear roadmap be made publicly available with dates and a process for considering the feedback received from the public consultation before placing it for Cabinet approval and introduction in the Parliament," the citizens demanded in their letter.
Claiming that the committee has failed to bring transparency in its proceedings, the citizens demanded disclosure of information about the dates and agenda of the meetings of the panel, the correspondence among the committee members and summary of the white paper received by the committee.
"Many of us, in our various capacities, gave specific feedback to the committee on the white paper shared by it. We fundamentally disagree with the committee's mandate as being to ensure growth of the digital economy while keeping personal data of citizens secure and protected.
"We strongly believe that individual rights and public interest should be at the centre of any legislation being considered with respect to data protection, especially after the landmark judgment of the nine-judge bench of the Supreme Court upholding the fundamental right to privacy," the citizens said.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)