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Indian Government Withdraws Data Protection Bill – Privacy Protection



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Yesterday the Indian Government officially withdrew the draft
Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019 (“Bill”) from
Parliament. Sometimes called ‘India’s GDPR’, this Bill
sought to regulate data processing activities of entities
collecting data of individuals in India. You can read the
withdrawal announcement here.

Here is a brief primer on what this Bill meant for businesses
operating in India, and what to expect next.

  • The Bill was developed following the Indian Supreme Court’s
    2017 ruling in K. S. Puttaswamy holding that informational privacy
    is protected as a fundamental right under the Indian Constitution.
    In this decision the court also emphasized the need for a data
    protection law. Following this decision, a committee was set up in
    2017 to review Indian privacy law, and following its report the
    Indian Government released an initial version of the Bill in
    2018.

  • The Bill led a chequered life, and went through numerous rounds
    of public debate and consultation. The text of the Bill was
    criticised by technology companies for certain business-unfriendly
    measures, such as data localisation and heavy levels of monetary
    fines for non-compliance. On the other hand, civil society groups
    criticised it for enabling government surveillance, and exempting
    the Indian Government from most of its rules and limitations.

  • In 2021, a Joint Committee of the Indian Parliament
    (“JPC”) suggested 81 amendments to the draft Bill. The
    JPC also recommended that the Bill be amended to include
    ‘non-personal data’ within its scope; something that has
    never been a part of the Bill. You can read the JPC full report here. It now seems that a combination of
    public criticism, and extensive JPC comments, has led to the Indian
    Government withdrawing the Bill and seeking a ‘clean
    slate’.

  • The Indian Government is now working on preparing a new
    comprehensive bill. We understand that it is also looking at making
    corresponding enabling changes to the Indian Information Technology
    Act, 2000. A new bill may be introduced in the Indian Parliament as
    soon as its 2022 Winter Session, beginning in December. It remains
    to be seen if a new draft bill will be released before December
    2022 for public consultations, like last time.

We will continue to track the matter and keep you updated on how
the new regulation on data privacy develops in the future.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.

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