House panel to adopt report on Data Protection Bill on Monday

AM Jigeesh New Delhi | Updated on November 21, 2021

Data fiduciaries may be given two years to adapt to the new law

The Joint Select Committee of Parliament on Data Protection Bill would adopt its report with a draft amended Bill at its day-long meeting scheduled on Monday.

The report would be tabled in both Houses during the Winter Session of Parliament beginning November 29. The Opposition members are believed to have amendments ready for the meeting to challenge some key changes from the original Bill pertaining to penal provisions on fiduciaries for breaching data privacy and their demand for Constitutional status to Data Protection Authority as also the formation of State-level data protection authorities.

The panel, according to sources, is likely to recommend at least a period of 24 months for implementation of the Act so that the data fiduciaries and data processors have enough time to make the necessary changes to their policies and create necessary institutional structures and processes for adapting to the law.

Some recommendations

Sources in the panel indicated that all social media platforms, which do not act as intermediaries, are likely to be treated as publishers and held accountable for the content they host.

It is learnt that the panel may recommend a mechanism to hold social media platforms liable for the content from unverified accounts.

It may also recommend that no social media platform be allowed to operate in India unless the parent company has an office in India.

Some members want individual privacy rights to be safeguarded against misuse in the name of journalism. “Some members feel that self-regulation by the media is insufficient…The existing media regulators such as the Press Council of India are not appropriately equipped. There is need to create a statutory body for media regulation,” said a panel member.

The members also want to add NGOs in the clause defining data fiduciary as they are key players in collecting data in rural areas.

Penalties issue

On the issue of penalty, the panel is likely to recommend changes in the draft Bill. The draft Bill recommends two types of penalties in terms of percentage of world-wide turnover or as a specific amount or the world-wide turnover of tech company.

“Such quantification may not be feasible as there are no clear mechanisms to quantify the ‘world-wide turnover’ of the company. It would be prudent to enable the government to quantify the penalties,” a member said.

Being a significant data fiduciary, the Government may be asked by the panel to establish standard operating procedures in the ministries and departments to protect data collected.

The panel is reportedly unlikely to accept the demand for Data Protection Authority to have constitutional status and for each State to have their own Data Protection Authority.

Published on November 21, 2021

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