A Strong lobby in the industry is working against the Personal Data Protection Bill being passed with the current provisions which the Justice Srikrishna Committee has suggested.
The principal objection of the lobby is to the provision of the Bill which will require applicable organizations to store such data within India.
This provision is similar to the restrictions placed under GDPR that data cannot be transferred outside the EU unless certain pre-conditions are satisfied and just as the GDPR provides exceptions under which personal data can be sent across the border, Indian law also provides that the data has to be stored locally and provides exemptions under which data can be sent outside India.
But the lobby which objects to these provisions has been trying its best to convince the Government to drop the data localization aspects of the Bill. However, it appears that the current Government is not so easily amenable to such pressures and is strongly inclined to retain the data localization aspects.
So, as a strategy to delay the inevitable and hopefully kill the provision, the lobby is now trying to plant stories that suggest that the Government may not introduce the bill now and wait for the next Government to take charge after the elections.
According to a news report in Economic Times an official of the Government either from the MeiTy or the Law Ministry is reported to have stated that the Bill is sent to the Law Ministry for vetting and the Law Ministry feels that they can take time to complete their task since the Bill is not to be presented now.
The report has all the hall marks of a fake planted news to create a perception that this is the way to go…. Delay the passage of the bill so that the bill does not get passed for the time being and hopefully the next Parliament will be favorable to the influence of the lobby.
I request the Government not to fall prey to such a design of the Anti-Data Localization lobby. Firstly it is possible that the current Government may not be able to get a brute majority it wants to run the Country without interference from the corrupt. Even if they succeed to retain majority in the Loksabha, the problems of the Rajya Sabha will continue to prevent passage of any bill which the opposition does not like.
More importantly, if the Current Government does not show the resolve to pass the Data Protection Bill, it will give ammunition to the anti-Aadhaar lobby that the Government is never serious on Privacy and hence the commitments given by the Government during the Aadhaar judgement are not going to be fulfilled. This will be one of the strongest grounds on which the Aadhaar review petition would be argued.
I therefore urge the Government not to yield to the pressures of such officials (If the report is true) who want the bill not to be presented and passed while the current Government is under control.
The bill has been drafted by none other than under the supervision of Justice Srikrishna and substantial public debate has already taken place. Whatever further changes are to be made can be done within one or two sittings if necessary. There is no reason for the Law Ministry to take more than one week or 10 days to finalize the provisions and make further progress towards the passage of the Bill. I therefore consider that there is no reason for the law ministry to take a long time to finalize the changes.
I would even suggest that the Government should pass an ordinance before the Supreme Court tries to hear the Aadhaar review petition so that the Court will not have an excuse to believe the contention of the petitioners that the Government does not have intention of passing necessary legislation to protect the privacy.
Looking forward to the Government taking suitable action to ensure that PDPA bill is presented and passed at the earliest.