RTI activists have increased their reach out to fellow citizens over opposition to the Digital Personal Data Protection Bill (DPDB) that the government looks to table in Parliament during the budget session. The Central Government recently informed the Supreme Court that it will be tabling the bill in the budget session. A case with WhatsApp is ongoing in the Supreme Court over the same issue.
As part of their outreach program, they are increasing petitions to the government and online campaigns to avoid any amendments to the RTI Act. Citizens feel the present provisions in the draft DPDPB will dilute the Right to Information (RTI) Act through its provisions. As reported earlier, citizens feel the proposed DPDPB has four provisions that have shaken the activists and civil society members.
Among them is the deletion of section 8 (1) (j) of the RTI Act which allows personal data to be given for transparency. Also contentious is the sweeping definition of ‘person’ in the proposed bill that encompasses everything from a person to the Hindu undivided family, company, firm, artificial juristic person, body of individuals (incorporated or not) and institutions.
"We are sending this through people on WhatsApp so that the common man can understand what is happening. Not many people are realising that if the RTI is diluted through the draft Data Bill, information will not be available under RTI and that will seriously impact the functioning of RTI. It will make the RTI defunct if this amendment goes through. Public information officers will have their way to deny information and citizens will not get information. Many scams, officials shirking responsibility and people getting their rights without having to pay bribes just through sheer access to information may not be there. Hence we are carrying out this campaign," said Shailesh Gandhi, former Central Information Commission who has started the banner campaign that is being done through email and social media.
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