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Source: Indian Express

  • Prelims: Personal Data Protection Bill, Justice B N Srikrishna
  • Mains GS Paper II and III: Right to privacy, Personal Data Protection Bill, Joint Committee of Parliament (JCP) on the Bill etc


  • In August 2022, the government withdrew the bill and on November 18th released the fourth iteration of the data privacy legislation: The Digital Personal Data Protection Bill, 2022 (Bill).




Background of data privacy law:

  • Started in 2010 with the constitution of the Justice Srikrishna Committee.


Justice BN Srikrishna Committee Data Protection Report:

  • The Committee was constituted by the union government in July 2017, to deliberate on a data protection framework.
  • The Supreme Court in its Puttaswamy judgment, 2017: It declared privacy a fundamental right.
  • Interests of citizens: The report has emphasized that interests of the citizens and the responsibilities of the state have to be protected, but not at the cost of trade and industry.
  • It proposed a draft Personal Data Protection Bill.


New Data Protection Bill:

  • Inclusion of the word “digital” in the Bill’s title speaks to India’s long standing goal of being a digitally forward society.
  • Bill has two major stakeholders:
    • Data Principal
    • Data Fiduciary.
  • Data Principal: It refers to the subject whose data is being processed
  • Data Fiduciary: It is an entity that processes this data.
  • fiduciary” whilst referring to a data processor is significant.
  • The relationship between the two is guided by:
    • trust, assurance and good faith.
  • Data Fiduciary: It is responsible for safeguarding the interests of Data Principals.
  • Bill describes:
    • the obligations of the Data Fiduciaries towards Data Principals
    • the rights and duties of the latter
    • regulatory framework through which data will be processed.
  • Bill lists the “duties” of the Data Principals: these have no bearing on the realization of the rights provided by the Bill.


Important aspects of bill:

  • In addition to the general obligations to prevent the misuse of the personal data of individuals
    • The Bill has outlined a category of Significant Data Fiduciaries entities: that are required to comply with additional measures to safeguard the personal data of individuals.
    • Only companies that process vast amounts of data or have a potential impact on the country’s sovereignty and integrity need to take such stringent measures.
    • Such measures reduce the compliance cost of companies that are at a nascent stage.
  • Data localisation” in the previous versions of the Bill, have been omitted: The reworked Bill permits the government to notify countries to which data transfers may be permitted.



  • Section 25: It refers to the quantum of financial penalty that must be imposed on a person guilty of non-compliance in matters related to detail.
    • The focus remains only on the nature and gravity of the violation.
  • Financial ranking: The proposed legislation does not consider the financial ranking of a company before imposing penalties.


Need for data protection:

  • Large internet coverage: India currently has over 750 million Internet users, with the number only expected to increase in the future.
  • Digital India: The Government is also making a strong push for a ‘Digital India’, with increased focus on digitisation of access to health, ration, banking, insurance, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Inter-linking of data: There is a greater focus on the inter-linking of data, whether through facial recognition, Aadhaar, or the Criminal Procedure (Identification) Act, 2022.
  • Highest data breaches: India has among the highest data breaches in the world.
    • Around 18 of every 100 Indians have been affected by data breaches since 2004.
  • Risk of data: Without a data protection law in place, the data of millions of Indians continues to be at risk of being exploited, sold, and misused without their consent.
  • Non-enforcement of FR against private non-state entities: Unlike state action, corporate action or misconduct is not subject to writ proceedings in India.


Way Forward

  • Govt to notify countries for data transfer: It is a major respite for several tech companies, who have long talked about the infeasibility of the data localisation provisions.
    • A balance has now been struck between the legitimate concerns of businesses and the protection of personal data of individuals.
  • Penalties imposed: The Bill must ensure that the penalties imposed are proportionate to the size and operations of a company – to be effective, fines must not drive companies into economic loss.
    • European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR): amongst other similar regulations, which levies penalties in accordance with the total turnover of companies.
  • The Bill safeguards individual data, whilst also promoting cooperation between data fiduciaries and the government.
  • It draws upon the best practices of foreign jurisdictions: such as Europe and Australia
    • It has been drafted as per India’s requirements.
    • The exemptions granted to the Centre are extremely restrictive and in sync with past judicial precedents and Article 19(2) of the Constitution.
  • Bill marks a transition from legalese to legal simplification: It realizes that it is in our best interests to ensure that all laws especially legislation that have a significant impact on citizens are made accessible to all individuals irrespective of their professional or educational standing



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