Data Protection Bill: No data can go out sans individual's nod

New Delhi: Tabling the Data Protection Bill, 2019, in Parliament with new provisions, the Centre on Wednesday announced that the draft legislation will "safeguard" the rights of Indians and data will not be taken without their consent.

Union IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad made the announcement in the Lok Sabha while introducing the Bill which will empower the government to ask companies, including Facebook, Google and others, for anonymised personal and non-personal data.

"By this bill, we (government) are safeguarding the rights of Indians. As per the architecture of the Bill, if data is taken without consent of the individual, you will suffer a penalty," Prasad said.

"The second is, if you misuse the data beyond the permissible consent, you will suffer consequences. We have a penalty of crores of rupees for all such persons who misuse data.’’

The minister said India's economy is getting increasingly digitalised and 121 crore mobile phones are active in a population of 130 crore.

"We gather a lot of data but a lot of data is also important for the development of the economy. We are also making a provision that 'anonymised data' must be available for policy making, for innovation."So, the government has divided data into critical data and sensitive data.

"The critical data is data which the government will notify from time to time. It cannot go out of India at all. Sensitive data involves income, medical records, sexual preferences and many more things. This data can go out of India with the consent of the individual and with the approval of the authority.

"On allegations of surveillance raised by the Opposition, the minister said the charge is "completely wrong, unsustainable, malicious and misleading".

In this context, he added that a dedicated Joint Select Committee of both Houses of Parliament is expected to consider the Bill.Referring to the opposition's claim that the Supreme Court has

held that privacy is a fundamental right, the minister said that members are right but the court had also pointed out that a corrupt person does not have the right of privacy.

The SC in Aadhaar case itself had emphasised that we must come with a data protection law," Prasad said.

The Personal Data Protection Bill has created quite a buzz after it came to light that the latest version seeks to allow the use of personal and non-personal data of users in some cases, especially where national security is involved.

Several legal experts have already red-flagged the issue and said the provision will give the government unaccounted access to personal data of users in the country.

It is learnt that the Bill defines personal data as information that can help in the identification of an individual and has characteristics, traits and other features of a person's identity.

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