Minister claims it’s intended to conserve the digital data of 140 crore Indians, but Oppn raises concerns and claims the Bill is biased in favor of the center.
Union Railways Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw speaks in the Lok Sabha during the Monsoon session of Parliament, in New Delhi, Monday, Aug. 7, 2023.
The Digital Personal Data Protection Bill, 2023, which outlines both the rights of people and the responsibilities of organizations storing and processing data, was approved by the Lok Sabha on Monday.
The House approved four additional Bills.
Union IT Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw moved the personal data protection Bill for consideration and passage amidst protesting opposition MPs, claiming that the opposition showed little interest in matters like public welfare and the security of individuals’ personal data.
“The Bill aims to safeguard the digital personal data of 140 crore Indians,” Vaishnaw said. Before presenting the Bill to Parliament, a thorough public consultation, including review of the text by 48 organizations and 39 ministries, was held, according to him.
For organizations that violate the rules, the bill suggests a maximum fine of Rs 250 crore and a minimum fine of Rs 50 crore. Its standards will be applicable to both personal data acquired offline and thereafter digitized in India from data principals online.
Vaishnaw further emphasized that the Bill’s language is straightforward and gender-neutral, substituting the pronouns “she” and “her” for “he” and “his.”
If the processing is being done to provide goods or services to people in India, the Bill will also apply to such processing done outside of India. According to the Bill, the Centre is still able to limit the transfer of personal data to any nation or territory outside of India.
While endorsing it, YSRCP member Krishna Lavu expressed reservations about the Bill’s provision allowing state governments to exploit voter profile data and the planned changes to the RTI Act involving personal information, which had previously made it possible to learn about specific corruption instances.
Syed Imtiaz Jaleel of AIMIM expressed worry about what he called the “excessive centralization” that is occurring and enabling the Center to “censor” content. Even though the nation requires data protection legislation, the TDP’s Jayadev Galla claimed that the current Bill is too biased in favor of the Union government.
Ritesh Panday, a BSP member, quoted George Orwell when he remarked, “The government has exclusively retained all the powers with itself regarding data protection, even though it is the biggest collector of public data in the country.”
By voice vote, some modifications proposed by opposition members were rejected.
On August 3, Vaishnaw presented the Bill before the Lok Sabha. It had been requested by the opposition to be forwarded to the parliamentary standing committee for review. In addition to moving the bill, the minister refuted the opposition’s claims that it was a money bill and referred to it as a “normal Bill” instead.
The provisions that privacy experts raised concerns about, such as the exclusions for the Center, have been kept in the Bill’s original form as submitted last November. The proposed law appears to provide the Centre virtual censorship authority in its new form.
Now, the Rajya Sabha must approve the Bill for it to become a law.
Other Bills passed
An amendment bill to improve ease of doing business by decriminalizing offenses committed while engaging in coastal aquaculture activities was approved by the Lok Sabha on Monday. Parshottam K. Rupala, a union minister, predicted that the fishermen’s community will support the Bill.
The Jammu & Kashmir Pharmacy Act qualification requirements and registration requirements were eliminated by a bill that the Lower House approved, removing any conflict between the two pieces of legislation.
Mansukh Mandaviya, the health minister, said the Pharmacy (Amendment) Bill, 2023, will expand work prospects for young people in J&K.
The House approved the Mediation Bill, 2023, which had been approved by the Rajya Sabha on August 1. Mediation is not a novel idea for an old nation like India, according to Law and Justice Minister Arjun Ram Meghwal in response to the discussion of the bill. He claimed that the government introduced the Bill to address the difficulties of people, particularly the poor.
Meghwal noted that there are nearly 70,000 cases pending in the Supreme Court, 60 lakh cases in high courts, and nearly 4 crore cases in district and subordinate courts. He also stated that mediation centers will receive legal support through this Bill.
The Anusandhan National Research Foundation Bill was also approved by the House, according to Union minister Jitendra Singh, in order to “enable rationalization and democratization of human resource and research funding, boost innovation and start-ups, and reaffirm India’s role as a global player.”