Experts raise concern over draft Data Protection Bill

With the Justice B.N. Srikrishna Committee submitting the draft Data Protection Bill to the Centre for consideration, experts and activists have expressed concerns that the Bill, if passed in its current shape, would not augur well for citizens.

In a statement released to the media, the Mozilla Corporation, on the one hand, said the Bill provides a strong base for protection of privacy.

But, on the other, it hoped that the government takes measures to plug the gaps in the document.

“This Bill provides a strong foundation for protection of Indians’ privacy, but it is not without loopholes — in particular, the requirement to store a copy of all personal data within India, creating broad permissions for government use of data, and the independence of the regulator’s adjudicatory authority. We welcome the Government’s commitment to a public consultation process, which we hope will rectify the cracks in this foundation,” said Amba Kak, Mozilla Corporation Policy Advisor in India.

City-based Free Software Movement of India (FSMI) claimed that the Bill ignores user privacy rights as it does not provide for methods for erasure of personal data. “The report places the onus of any legal consequences on the user in case of withdrawal of consent. This is unjust and places undue pressure on the part of the user to forcibly retain consent,” an excerpt from the statement reads.

The FSMI also claimed the draft Bill subverts the Right to Information Act. This, the body said, would reduce transparency and accountability of the government.

Independent cyber-security researcher Srinivas Kodali said the draft Bill does not do much in terms of bringing about a change in Aadhaar.

“The option to file a complaint in case of Aadhaar data breach is still with the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI). In terms of Aadhaar, the Bill does not achieve anything as it [the UIDAI] is autonomous,” Mr. Kodali said, adding that he hopes a second round of consultations would be announced soon.

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