Learn about the Digital Personal Data Protection Bill’s passage in Rajya Sabha, its provisions, obligations on data handling, alignment with privacy rights, and its impact on the Right to Information Act. Understand its framework and principles for safeguarding data privacy and balancing business needs.

Rajya Sabha Clears Personal Data Protection Bill
Rajya Sabha Clears Personal Data Protection Bill

Opposition Walkout and Bill Introduction
The Rajya Sabha approved the Digital Personal Data Protection Bill (DPDPB) through a voice vote after the Opposition left the House due to the Manipur issue. The bill was presented in the Lok Sabha on the preceding Thursday. Although the Opposition requested its referral to a standing committee for further review, the bill was accepted for consideration through a voice vote. The Lok Sabha had previously passed the bill on August 7.

Key Provisions and Purpose
The bill focuses on regulating digital personal data and imposing requirements on private firms engaged in online data collection, with exceptions for government and law enforcement agencies. The bill addresses concerns regarding the misuse of users’ personal information by online platforms. It aligns with the Supreme Court’s recognition of the ‘Right to Privacy’ as a fundamental right six years ago.

Obligations on Data Handling
Union Minister of Electronics and Information Technology, Ashwini Vaishnaw, emphasized that the bill establishes obligations for both private and government entities concerning the collection and processing of citizens’ data. He noted the bill’s thorough public consultation before being introduced in the House.

Framework and Principles
The bill’s framework centers on governing digital personal data and defining the rights and responsibilities of both the ‘Digital Citizen’ and businesses. It shares fundamental principles with personal data protection laws in other jurisdictions, including the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). These principles encompass fairness, transparency, data minimization, accuracy, storage limitations, confidentiality, and accountability. The bill aims to ensure data privacy while also maintaining a balanced approach to business requirements.

Amendments and Impact on RTI Act
However, the bill amends the Right to Information Act (RTI) of 2005, removing exemptions related to disclosing personal information in the public interest. Currently, the RTI Act permits the disclosure of personal information, such as officials’ salaries, when it serves the public interest. The proposed bill eliminates such exceptions, disallowing the disclosure of any personal information.

Public Consultation and Implementation
Released for public consultation on November 18, the bill garnered around 20,000 comments from experts and industry stakeholders. Comparatively, the final bill presented in Parliament retained much of the proposed draft from the consultation phase. The bill endeavors to balance data protection concerns with practical business needs.

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