After the Personal Data Protection Bill 2019 was introduced in the parliament on Tuesday, it was referred to a joint parliamentary committee comprising of 20 members of parliament from the Lok Sabha and 10 members of parliament from the Rajya Sabha.
The committee which includes among its members Meenakshi Lekhi, Tejasvi Surya, Saugata Roy, Kanimozhi and others will submit a report by the last week of the Budget Session 2020.
The draft of the bill, which was approved by the cabinet on Friday is a departure from the initial draft introduced by the Justice BN Srikrishna Committee in July 2018.
In its current version, the bill does not mandate the mirroring of personal data and allows for the processing of non-sensitive data outside India. The bill also gives the central government the power to define ‘critical personal data.’
Technology and ecommerce companies are concerned about the clause that allows the government to access insight on personal data from companies for the purposes of “delivery of services or to benefit policy formation”. The companies have flagged that access of the intellectual property of these companies may stifle innovation.
The bill also exempts government agencies from the provisions of the new bill “in the interest of sovereignty, integrity of India, the security of State” which has been flagged by think-tanks and advocacy groups.
“..a provision was added granting the government complete discretion to exempt any entity or department from any part of the law. This leaves the current legal vacuum around India’s surveillance and intelligence services intact, which is fundamentally incompatible with effective privacy protection,” said a blog post by Mozilla, creator of free web browser Firefox.