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Boosting privacy: Cabinet gives nod to Data Protection Bill

Bill seeks to lay down framework on processing of personal and private data by public and private entities; minister says details of BIll will be shared in Parliament

Published: 05th December 2019 12:31 PM  |   Last Updated: 05th December 2019 12:31 PM   |  A+A-

Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman leaves after addressing a press conference on Cabinet decisions in New Delhi on Wednesday | Shekhar yadav

By Express News Service

NEW DELHI: In line with the announcement in the last session of Parliament, the Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved the Personal Data Protection Bill that seeks to lay down a policy framework on processing of personal and private data by public and private entities.

A high-level expert group headed by former SC judge B N Srikrishna had drafted the legislative proposal, which was later taken up for inter-ministerial consultation. “The data protection Bill does not mandate companies to store and process all personal data in India. However, geographic restrictions to sensitive and critical personal data have been addressed in the legislative proposal,” said a senior official, adding that the Bill propose to allow the government to request non-personal data from any company for the purpose of policy planning.

Additionally, sources said, social media companies will have to develop a verification mechanism that is voluntary for users, in order to address the issue of anonymous social media profiles and users. “The list of sensitive data includes financial and health records. Such data has to be stored in India. However, it could be processed abroad under certain conditions, which would be clarified when the rules are formulated. Critical data as determined by the government must be stored and processed in India,” said the official, adding that the Bill proposes a penalty up to `15 crore or four per cent of the global turnover for violation of the norms.

“A Bill on personal data protection has been approved by the Cabinet. The government will share full details in Parliament,” said I&B Minister Prakash Javadekar. The Bill is likely to be introduced in Parliament soon.

The Bill, sources said, intends to lay down broad guidelines on collection, storage and processing of personal data, consent of individuals, penalties and compensation, code of conduct and enforcement.
Last week, Prasad said that the government will soon introduce a robust and balanced Personal Data Protection law in Parliament, adding that India will never compromise on data sovereignty. The Bill is expected to be introduced in the Parliament for consideration and for its passage in the Winter Session.

20 WhatsApp users at risk
Personal data of 20 WhatsApp users out of the 121 users targeted using Pegasus spyware may have been accessed by the attacker, the Centre said. Indian journalists and human rights activists were among those globally spied upon by unnamed entities using the spyware. Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said WhatsApp continues to review the available information. Govt is committed to protecting the fundamental rights of citizens, including the right to privacy,he said.

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