Centre withdraws the Personal Data Protection Bill, 2021

Ashwini Vaishnaw

In light of the Parliamentary Committee’s recommendations for significant modifications to the Personal Data Protection Bill, 2021, the Union government withdrew the same from the Lok Sabha.

Ashwini Vaishnaw, the Union Minister for Electronics and Information Technology, proposed the withdrawal resolution in the Lok Sabha, and the motion was approved with a voice vote.

An expert committee led by Justice BN Srikrishna originally drafted the Personal Data Protection Bill to establish rules for the protection of personal data in 2018.

The Centre introduced a draft of the Bill in 2019 in the Lok Sabha and in the same year it was referred to the Joint Parliamentary Committee. Further, after six extensions, the committee’s report was tabled in Parliament in December 2021.

The IT Minister further informed that the Joint Committee of Parliament had thoroughly reviewed the Personal Data Protection Bill and had put forth 81 amendments and 12 recommendations to broaden Bill’s purview.

Stating reasons for the withdrawal of the Bill, the IT Minister said, “The Personal Data Protection Bill 2019 was deliberated in great detail by the Joint Committee of Parliament. 81 amendments were proposed and 12 recommendations were made towards comprehensive legal framework on the digital ecosystem.”

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“Considering the report of the JCP, a comprehensive legal framework is being worked upon. Hence, in the circumstances, it is proposed to withdraw the Personal Data Protection Bill 2019 and present a new bill that fits into the comprehensive legal framework,” the Minister added.

“Tdy @GoI_MeitY withdrew the Personal Data Protection Bill,2021 from Parliament. This will soon be replaced by a comprehensive framework of Global std laws including Digital Privacy laws for contemporary & future challenges, PM @narendramodi ji vision of #IndiaTechade,” Union Minister of State for Electronics and Information Technology Rajeev Chandrasekhar said in a Tweet.

The government is likely to draft a new bill under the Parliamentary Committee’s recommendations and suggestions for the protection of personal data in online space.

The key objectives of the draft bill included protecting the rights of individuals whose data are processed, to create a framework for organisational and technical measures in the processing of data, laying down norms for social media platforms, cross-border transfer, accountability of entities processing data, remedies for unauthorised and harmful processing, to ensure the interest and security of the State.

The Bill’s prior mandate was restricted to personal data, and the decision to include non-personal data in its purview was met with strong opposition.

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Besides, the bill received criticism from privacy experts because they believed it was more in the government’s interest than it was to preserve privacy, which the Supreme Court declared to be a fundamental right in 2017.

The opposition has criticised the Data Protection Bill in its current form, especially for some of its provisions that gave the government and its agencies unrestricted control over how to handle personal data.

A number of MPs had issued dissenting remarks about the bill to the parliamentary committee opposing it in its current form