ASSOCHAM advocates for timeframe clause in upcoming Personal Data Protection Bill

Venkatesh Ganesh Mumbai | Updated on June 17, 2020 Published on June 17, 2020

ASSOCHAM is a part of the first batch of dozen entities to present their views on the proposed legislation to the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC).

Industry body ASSOCHAM has advocated for a clause in the upcoming Personal Data Protection Bill that will restrict data use only for the purpose it was collected and put a timeframe till when the data can be used.

ASSOCHAM President Niranjan Hiranandani told BusinessLine that the person whose personal data is being used should be made aware of these two things at the time of data collection and legislation should further prevent any breaches (of this arrangement) to protect the personal data.

ASSOCHAM is a part of the first batch of dozen entities to present their views on the proposed legislation to the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC).

Legislation on data protection has gathered pace since the Supreme Court ruled privacy as a fundamental right.

After the first draft of the Bill was submitted under a committee chaired by Justice B N Srikrishna in 2018, there were objections raised by companies on possible restrictions on cross-border data flow, with many saying that too much oversight would hinder innovation. On the other hand, privacy advocates are vociferous that privacy rights need to be enforced more strictly.

Hirandani explains the situation with an example. In 1897, the government in British India had designed ‘The Epidemic Diseases Act’ to prevent the outbreak of an epidemic. This Act was used by many state governments during the Covid-19 lockdown to prevent the movement of the citizens in India. Through this Act, the government can forcefully prevent, detain, or admit any person for treatment. Though the intention of the act is to stop the spread of the disease, the government needs to exercise caution that any use of excessive force can have a rebellious or detrimental reaction from the citizens, he said.

Regarding data protections

Other entities such as Facebook, Microsoft whose comments were sought by the JPC did not provide specifics. A Facebook spokesperson said: "We welcome India’s efforts to frame data protection legislation. We believe that a data protection law will empower Indian users and boost India's fast growing digital economy. It will also encourage people to be privacy conscious and exercise greater privacy controls that are available to them.”

Microsoft declined to comment. India with its 564 million internet user base is one of the most lucrative markets for internet-enabled services.

At a broad level, the internet itself is undergoing changes (with regard to being subject to more regulation over the years) and the concept of the internet when it was started and what it is today has undergone a total metamorphosis in terms of its applicability and usage. “We believe that there should be a system which ensures proper checks and balances to ensure that the right of the individual is not infringed upon. At the same time, there should also be a proper judicial forum for the individual to get his grievances redressed”, said Hirandani.

The Personal Data Protection Bill is also looking to deal with the illegal use of data, data collection without user’s consent or data breaches by service providers and other platforms. In cases where the data sharing is with consent and sometimes of the larger good of the society the government or authority uses it then sharing of data can be termed as safe, noted Hirandani.

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Published on June 17, 2020
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