Union IT and Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said that the Centre intends to have wide consultation on the draft personal data protection bill including inter-ministerial discussions. He added that all efforts are being made to fast-track it.

Terming the proposed legislation a “milestone”, the minister said he had given clear instructions to his department to undertake in-depth consultation and feedback on the draft bill.

“We are fast-tracking it,” Prasad told reporters when asked about the status of the draft.

Speaking to reporters later, he added that efforts are on to introduce the bill in the upcoming session of Parliament beginning December 11.

“This being a milestone legislation, widest consultation is always desirable. One (phase of consultation) was done under Justice B N Srikrishna, next we put it up online for feedback. Then there will be inter-ministerial consultation,” said Prasad.

The draft bill moots seeking “explicit consent” for processing ‘sensitive personal information’ like religious or political beliefs, sexual orientation and biometric details.

It suggests steps for safeguarding personal information, defines obligations of data processors as also rights of individuals, and proposes penalties for violation.

The areas covered include consent, what comprises personal data including sensitive personal data, exemptions which can be granted, grounds for processing data, storage restrictions for personal data, individual rights and right to be forgotten.

The draft of Personal Data Protection Bill, 2018 also imposes conditions on the cross-border transfer of personal data, and suggests setting up of Data Protection Authority of India to prevent any misuse of personal information.

The minister said Digital India initiatives had gone beyond the political divide. No state is opposing the flagship initiative that has the potential to change India, he said.

He, however, added that digital medium has to be safe and secure to ensure equitable spread of benefits. Prasad also noted that India’s digital inclusion initiative is already being acknowledged globally. He said in less than five years, the NDA administration has made 307 government services available on Umang platform and efforts are on to bring all central and state services on this platform.