JPC retains exemption clause, adopts personal data Bill

News: Joint Committee of Parliament (JCP)  on the Personal Data Protection (PDP) Bill, 2019 has submitted its report in the Parliament.

Also Read:  The draft personal data protection bill, 2018
What are the key recommendations?

Inclusion of non-personal data: It proposed to include non-personal data along with personal data and also that Data Protection Authority (DPA) should handle this. Any further policy/legal framework on non-personal data in the future should be made part of this legislation and not separate legislation.

Data collection by electronic hardware: Hardware manufacturers that collect data through digital devices are not under scrutiny in the earlier legislation. JCP suggested incorporating new clauses and allowing DPA to frame regulations towards data handling by hardware manufacturers and related entities.

Stricter regulations for social media platforms: JCP recommended that all social media platforms, which did not act as intermediaries, should be treated as publishers and be held accountable for the content they host. It also recommended setting up a statutory media regulatory for the regulation of content on such platforms.

However, The committee grants some exceptions to data fiduciaries below a certain threshold, not to hamper the growth of firms that are classified under MSMEs.

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Source: The Hindu

Definition: JCP recommended that the definition of harm should also include psychological manipulation which impairs the autonomy of a person.

What are the controversies surrounding the Personal Data Protection Bill?

Under the bill Clause 35, it allowed exemption to any agency under the Union Government in the name of “public order”, “sovereignty”, “friendly relations with foreign states” and “security of the state” from all or any provisions of the law.

Many members argued for removing public order as a ground for an exception given under clause 35. This would create two parallel universes where the private sector is strictly regulated, and the government sector has a lot of exemptions.

Read here: Issue of privacy and Personal Data Protection Bill 2019

Members proposed many alternatives like:
-Having judicial or Parliamentary oversight for granting such exemptions
-Providing the order of exemption in writing
-Allowing only partial exemptions to select agencies

However, the report did not accept these recommendations. It called for a balance of privacy and national security. It cited the exemptions as reasonable and in conformity with Article 19 and the Puttaswamy (2017) judgement.

What did the dissenting members propose?

They argued that the bill did not provide adequate safeguards to protect the right to privacy.

Read here: Need for a robust Personal Data Protection Bill

Source: This post is based on the following articles:

Platforms as publishers, penalties, checking electronic hardware may figure in draft data Bill” published in the Indian Express on 23rd November 2021.

JPC retains exemption clause, adopts personal data Bill” published in The Hindu on 23rd November 2021.

Falling short” published in The Hindu on 23rd November 2021.

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