“Balanced” legislation, according to the IT minister, will hasten economic progress.
The revised data protection bill in India is “balanced” and intended to promote growth, according to the country’s IT minister. The government had previously discarded a draft that had been criticized by IT firms and civil rights organizations.
The bill would be sought to be passed by the conclusion of the following parliamentary session, in April or May 2023, according to Ashwini Vaishnaw, ministry of railroads, communications, electronics, and IT.
Vaishnaw says in an interview with Financial Times that “We have extremely thorough talks with all the stakeholders, along with the nongovernmental organizations, including industry, along with the start-up ecosystem.” And the general result of all these conversations is this bill.
Companies like Amazon and the Indian store Flipkart, which is owned by Walmart, are among those paying careful attention to India’s sporadic and protracted attempts to govern the digital sphere since it is one of the key nations whose legislation will influence the future of social commerce.
In this nation, the largest democracy in the world, there are already 760 million active internet users, and by the end of this decade, the government expects that figure to rise to 1.2 billion.
India claims to have reviewed “global best practices,” such as the data privacy rules of Singapore, Australia, the EU, and the US when formulating the new law.
Because India is one of the leading data in the online economy, Vaishnaw stated, “We absolutely would like to build a framework that is in some ways very much in sync with the time, balanced all the stakeholders, as well as provides a system which helps towards further strengthening the economy.” “The bill is pretty well balanced.”
Following a 2017 Supreme Court ruling that recognized privacy as a basic right in a case against the government’s Aadhaar digital ID scheme, India started considering legislation to protect personal data.
The most recent form of the bill was withdrawn by the Modi government in May over five years of debates and consultations, citing its unwieldiness after being substantially modified in response to public comments. The fourth draft from India was released last week.
Civil liberties organizations had argued that earlier drafts offered the government too much latitude to acquire individuals’ personal information without their consent.
One of the aspects of the laws that were criticized by tech companies, including Facebook’s parent company Meta, was the necessity to retain personal data locally. Industry lobbyists said this rule was burdensome and would make it harder to conduct business online.
According to those briefed on the discussions, the free flow of information across borders has become one of the numerous difficult topics in negotiation on a prospective free trade deal between both India and the UK.
By relaxing the localization criteria, the new draft permits the transfer of personal data outside of India to “certain recognized countries and territories” where it believes user data will be protected.
In the same way that we secure the data of our citizens, Vaishnaw asserted that the trusted geography must be able to protect the data of Indian nationals. That is the core idea.
The founder of the think tank Vidhi Centre for Internal Policy, Arghya Sengupta, called the most recent version of the law “skeletal” in some of its provisions and wished it had provided “more clarity” regarding the purposes for which businesses may use the data they acquire.
I would choose some law over none, he continued, but I would rather fix the creases in the current statute than start from scratch, even if it has certain flaws.
Amazon, Spotify, Google, and Facebook are among the companies that belong to the Asia Digital Coalition, an industry body that is examining the proposed legislation and will make a formal submission by the deadlines for public comments on December 17 if all goes as planned.
India wants to regulate the internet in addition to the planned law on online personal data protection by enacting the Digital India Act, which will replace the IT Act, and the telecoms bill, which is now the subject of public consultation.