Guarding Your Digital Footprint: An Overview of India's New Data Protection Bill - A Voz de Pramod!

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Sunday, March 5, 2023

Guarding Your Digital Footprint: An Overview of India's New Data Protection Bill

 (This article was originally written in Konkani for Amcho Sandesh - Konkani Monthly and published in January2023. Here, I present an English version of the article for my blog readers. The content remains the same, but the language has been adapted for English-speaking audiences. I hope you enjoy reading it! )

We have entered into a new year once again, and as of 2023, we have many special days throughout the year. Every year on January 28th, we observe Data Privacy Day, also known as Data Protection Day. However, how many of us are aware of this important day? Before we can understand its significance, we must first understand what data is and why it is crucial to protect it.

We are living in the digital age, where most of our businesses and activities are conducted online. To engage in digital transactions, we must provide our personal information in digital format. No matter what application you are using online today, you will be required to provide your personal details. In recent times, even the government has shifted its entire operations online. From voter cards to ration cards, everything has gone digital. In India, the government has made the digital world accessible to everyone through the "Aadhar" Act. Therefore, even though we are aware of the risks involved, we have no choice but to become dependent on digital transactions.

However, the question is, how safe is the information we provide in this digital age? What if our personal data is misused? Why do we need to be cautious about our digital data, and where is it being used? We must have a complete understanding of all these factors to protect our private data fully.

The Importance of Protecting Private Digital Data

In India, the Aadhaar card has become a mandatory document for all citizens. To obtain an Aadhaar card, the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) requires individuals to provide their name, address, gender, date of birth, mobile number, email address, and a photograph. Additionally, UIDAI collects biometric information by taking fingerprints and two iris scans. The government assures that this is the only information collected.

However, when individuals link their Aadhaar card to other documents such as PAN, voter ID, bank accounts, and mobile numbers, the government can access all of their personal information. This poses a threat to individuals' private digital data at the government level.

Moreover, when individuals use the internet, most applications steal their personal information and share it with third-party entities with their consent. For instance, when installing applications on their phones, individuals grant permissions to access their contacts, phone's memory, photo gallery, camera, GPS, and microphone. With the help of artificial intelligence technology, these applications can even infer individuals' personal details such as financial situation, habits, hobbies, and relationships.

The distribution of personal information to government or private organizations poses a great danger to individuals. It is imperative to have a legal framework in place to ensure that citizens' privacy rights are protected. The constitution of India has decreed privacy as a fundamental right, and it is crucial to know how digital data is used, where it goes, and who has access to it.

In conclusion, protecting private digital data is of utmost importance in the current age of digitization. It is crucial to have strict legal frameworks in place to ensure that individuals' privacy rights are protected, and personal information is not misused or compromised.

India's Long-Awaited Data Protection Bill: An Overview of Its Journey

In India, approximately 700 million people use the internet, resulting in billions of digital transactions every second. However, India lacks a comprehensive data protection law, and in case of a data dispute, only the Information Technology Act-2000 or the 2011 Information Technology Acts exist. The Indian government has been working on introducing a Data Protection Act for the last five years and has presented four versions of the bill so far. The Digital Personal Data Protection Bill 2022 is expected to be passed in this year's monsoon session, according to Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) Minister Ashwini Vaishnav.

In 2018, Justice B.N. Srikrishna presented the first prototype of the bill, which emphasized that Indian data should be stored only in the country's data centres, no data should be collected without the user's permission, personal data should be kept to a minimum, and users should be aware of where their data is being used and by whom. However, the Modi government introduced the Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019 in Parliament, which faced objections and was referred by Parliament directly to the Joint Parliamentary Committee. The COVID-19 pandemic further delayed the process, resulting in the revised Data Protection Bill, 2021 returning to Parliament in 2021 after receiving advice from the JPC. However, the bill still faced objections, and in August 2022, the government introduced the Digital Personal Data Protection Bill, which is expected to be passed in the coming months.

The New Digital Data Protection Bill: What You Need to Know...

The issue of data protection has become a critical concern in today's digital age. With the amount of personal information we share online, it is essential to have laws and regulations that protect our privacy. The Indian government has recently introduced the Digital Data Protection Bill, which aims to provide a framework for the protection of personal data.

One of the main features of the bill is the right to know how your data is being used by companies. Sections 12(3) and 12(4) give individuals the right to know who has access to their data and how it is being used. It also requires companies to delete personal data once the purpose for which it was collected is fulfilled.However, there is a concern regarding Section 18, which grants the government the right to access personal data for "public order" purposes. The term "public order" is open to interpretation, and this has caused public outcry, as it could be used to infringe on individuals' privacy rights.

In India, Data Privacy Day is celebrated on January 26th, coinciding with the day the constitution was passed. Article 21 of the constitution gives individuals the fundamental right to civil liberty and the right to life and liberty. In August 2021, the Supreme Court ruled that privacy is also a fundamental right, further emphasizing the need for data protection laws.
It is crucial to have a healthy discussion in Parliament to ensure that the Digital Data Protection Bill adequately protects the privacy rights of individuals. The bill should focus on the welfare of the people, and any provisions that could infringe on individual privacy rights should be carefully examined and amended if necessary.

In conclusion, the Digital Data Protection Bill is a positive step towards protecting individuals' privacy rights in India. However, there is a need for a thorough examination of the bill to ensure that it is comprehensive and protects the interests of the people.


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