Government Withdraws The Personal Data Protection Bill

Union minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said that the government will present a new Bill that fits into the comprehensive legal framework

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The Central government, on Wednesday, has announced the withdrawal of Personal Data Protection Bill, 2021. It is also said that the bill would be soon replaced by a comprehensive legal framework that will be designed to address all the contemporary and future challenges of the digital ecosystem.

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Stating the government's stand on this withdrawal, Union information technology minister, Ashwini Vaishnaw said, "The Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019 was deliberated in great detail by the Joint Committee of parliament, 81 amendments were proposed and 12 recommendations were made towards comprehensive legal framework on digital ecosystem. Considering the report of the JCP, a comprehensive legal framework is being worked upon. Hence, in the circumstances, it is proposed to withdraw The Personal Data Protection Bill and present a new bill that fits into the comprehensive legal framework."

As a response regard to the bill withdrawal, Rajeev Chandrasekhar, MoS for electronics and technology said in a news report was quoted as saying, "Big tech firms would have just hired more lawyers to comply if there was a complicated privacy law. The burden of such legislation would have hurt startups. I have always emphasized that data privacy is anyway a fundamental right of all citizens, according to the Supreme Court's ruling. What the data protection law does is it just specifies the do's and don'ts for those who collect the data."

Members of the Joint Committee on Personal Data Protection Bill also welcomed the government's move to withdraw the legislation. The committee responded that it was better to bring a new legislation considering the 80 amendments suggested by the panel. The committee had submitted a 542-page report including an overall 93 recommendations and 81 amendments to the Bill in December 2021. Later on, former Union minister and BJP MP P.P Chaudhary had also suggested around 97 corrections and improvements in the Bill.

Senior BJD leader, Bhartruhari Mahtab, said in an interaction with The Hindu that, "The Bill had more than 75 amendments. The government had also moved around 12 amendments. Instead of moving all those amendments, it is better to have a new Bill. But it should come early. We need to have a data protection law and it should not be delayed.

Responding to the withdrawal of the Bill, Congress Lok Sabha MP Manish Tewari tweeted that, "Most unfortunate Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019 as amended by joint committee of Parliament is being withdrawn by government for full two years during the height of wave I and 2 of Covid-19. MP's across parties worked to make it better. Big techs never wanted this law. Big tech won; India lost."

As per data available, The Data Protection Bill was introduced on December 11, 2019 by Union electronics and information technology minister Ravi Shankar Prasad. The Bill was referred to a Joint Parliamentary Committee and it was aimed at protecting the privacy of individuals relating to their personal data and build a relationship of trust between them and the entities processing this data.