Provisions of the Digital Personal Data Protection Bill, which was passed by the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday, will be rolled out “very soon”, and interactions with industry stakeholders are on, Union Minister for Electronics and IT and Railways Ashwini Vaishnaw said.
Work on the rule-making and digital implementation process is already on, as sources in the ministry say the rollout could happen in the “next six to 10 months or earlier”.
“We have already been working on the rule-making and digital implementation process. Industry was alerted too, and they have been working towards incorporating the provisions of this Bill in their working too. So it should be rolled out very soon,” the Minister said.
The Bill aims to ensure that data collection, sharing and storage practices adhere to standards and safeguard privacy. The Bill gives users of digital services more power and imposes obligations on any company using the data of individuals.
Vaishnaw explained that Indian citizens have the right to access information, right to correction of personal data, right to eraser, and right to grievance redressal, among others.
According to Vaishnaw, the Bill remains “non-prescriptive and horizontal in nature”. This means data collections across platforms will remain accountable under the upcoming law.
“We did not want the Bill to be prescriptive or put in terms which would become obsolete with changes in technology. In such cases, the compliance burden will also go up for industry and citizens. So we decided to keep it horizontal and principle-based. We also used simple terms while defining provisions of the Bill,” Vaishnaw said.
Exemptions have been carved out “specifically”, as per the “Constitutional mandates”.
“Exemptions for the Government are exactly within the framework of the Constitution of India. If you look at the General Data Protection Rules of the European Union (GDPR), there are 16 exemptions for this, like economic or financial interest, monetary, Budgetary and taxation matters, issues or matters covering public health and social security, and so on. If you count that and compare it with our Bill, then you will see that there is no question of excessive exemptions that have been given (to the Government here),” he said.
Vaishnaw explained that the Right to Privacy is a fundamental right as laid down by the Supreme Court in the Puttaswamy judgement; and there has to be a “consonance” between it and the Right to Information. “We have done this by making a small amendment to Section 8(G) of our RTI Act. This amendment does not allow any public official or representative to hide any information which is required to be produced by law. It is very clear,” he said.
Data protection board
Grievance redressal would be through the Data Protection Board, the Telecom Disputes and Settlement Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT), and, finally, the Supreme Court. This would apply to all, including the Government.
The Data Protection Board, which will be established under the forthcoming law, will be an autonomous body, Vaishnaw said, adding that it will consist of industry experts and professionals.