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Government Withdraws Data Protection Bill 2021: Drafts New Data Bill

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Government withdraws Data Protection Bill, 2021

The Data Protection Bill, 2021, has been withdrawn from the Lok Sabha by Union Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw, Ministry of Communications & Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) after 4 years of deliberations.

The Government aims to replace the personal data protection bill with a comprehensive legal framework “intended to tackle all of the current and future challenges of the digital ecosystem”.

  • It will encompass a new Telecom law, Information Technology (IT) law, and user Privacy law.
  • The new Bill will uphold the fundamental principles of the Right to Privacy, and the IT Act of 2000 will also be revised.

Genesis of the Bill

The bill, which was first proposed in 2017 following the Justice Puttaswamy Privacy Judgement, was drafted by a committee headed by retired Supreme Court Justice BN Srikrishna and was tabled in 2019 (Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019).

  • The Joint Committee of Parliament (JCP) reviewed the 2019 bill before submitting its final recommendations and a revised draft bill in November 2021.

The new bill incorporated both personal and non-personal data, which was to be handled by a Data Protection Authority.

  • Since non-personal data is included in its purview, the bill’s title was also modified to the Data Protection Bill (2021).

Some of the Proposals of the Bill

The withdrawn Bill suggested restrictions on the use of personal data without citizens’ explicit consent.

  • Furthermore, it had aimed to grant the government the authority to exempt its investigative agencies from the provisions of the Act.

Initially, the legislation was intended to safeguard the digital privacy rights of India’s growing internet subscriber base and emerging data economy.

  • It was then amended to add provisions for regulating social media and hardware companies, as well as data localization and non-personal data.

Reason for withdrawal of the Bill

The bill was referred to the JCP, which, after a thorough investigation, recommended 81 amendments in a Bill of 99 sections with 12 suggestions. As a result, the government had to withdraw the previous Bill and propose a new one.

  • The JCP’s report on the Personal Data Protection Bill listed a number of concerns that were important but fell outside the purview of a modern digital privacy law.

Recent Related News:

In June 2022, the Union Cabinet has approved a proposal of the Department of Telecommunications (DoT), Ministry of Communications to conduct a spectrum auction through which spectrum will be assigned to the successful bidders for providing 5G services to public and enterprises.

About Ministry of Communications:

Union Minister – Ashwini Vaishnaw (Rajya Sabha – Odisha)
Minister of State (MoS) – Devusinh Chauhan