Technology

India withdraws personal data bill that alarmed tech giants – TechCrunch

The Indian government has withdrawn its long-awaited Personal Data Protection Act, which has come under scrutiny from several privacy advocates and tech giants who feared the legislation could restrict how sensitive information is handled and give the government sweeping powers to access it.

The move comes as a surprise as lawmakers recently hinted that the bill presented in 2019 could see the “light of the world” anytime soon. New Delhi received dozens of amendments and recommendations from a parliamentary panel including lawmakers from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling party, which “identified many relevant issues but which went beyond the scope of a modern digital privacy law,” said India’s junior IT Minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar.

The government will now work on a “comprehensive legal framework” and present a new draft law, he added.

The Personal Data Protection Act aimed to provide Indian citizens with rights regarding their data. India, the world’s second largest internet market, has seen a personal data explosion over the past decade as hundreds of citizens went online for the first time and began using dozens of apps. However, there is uncertainty as to how much power individuals, private companies and government agencies have over it.

“The Personal Data Protection Act, 2019 was discussed in detail by the Joint Committee of Parliament. 81 amendments were proposed and 12 recommendations made for a comprehensive legal framework for the digital ecosystem. A comprehensive legal framework is being worked on, taking into account the report of the JCP. Therefore, under the circumstances, it is proposed to withdraw. The Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019′ and are presenting a new law that fits within the comprehensive legal framework,” India’s IT Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said in a written statement on Wednesday.

The bill drew criticism from many industry stakeholders. The New Delhi-based privacy group Internet Freedom Foundation said the bill “offers major exemptions for government bodies, prioritizes the interests of large corporations and fails to adequately respect your fundamental right to privacy”.

Meta, Google and Amazon were some of the companies that had raised concerns about some of the joint parliamentary committee’s recommendations on the proposed bill.

The bill also stipulated that companies in India would only be allowed to store certain categories of “sensitive” and “critical” data, including financial, health and biometric data.

“I hope the bill doesn’t get thrown out in the trash, given all the work that went into it. Throwing out the bill altogether will create a kind of limbo from a privacy perspective. Nobody wants that,” said Nikhil Pahwa, the editor of MediaNama, which covers politics and media, in a series of posts on Twitter.

“The new bill should be put up for public consultation. Government should recognize that civil society and broader industry participation help to improve laws and regulations. The GPA did not involve many key civil society actors. The government has already wreaked havoc with the IT Rules 2021 and the CERT-In instructions. The regulations must be sensible or it will harm India’s digital future.”

https://techcrunch.com/2022/08/03/india-government-to-withdraw-personal-data-protection-bill/ India withdraws personal data bill that alarmed tech giants – TechCrunch

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