After getting a nod from the union cabinet, the Personal Data Protection Bill is all set to be discussed by a proposed joint select committee comprising of members from both the Houses of Parliament.
According to the Minister of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY), Ravi Shankar Prasad, the proposed committee is expected to bring out a report based on the norms laid out in the bill. Moreover, Prasad expects that the committee’s report will be presented in the Parliament before the Budget session, which is expected to begin in the last week of January.
With this proposition, the government seems to be on track with its plan to implement the PDP bill in the country. However, Congress leader Shashi Tharoor, who is also the head of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information and Technology, protested against this move and reportedly said that the draft law should be referred to his panel.
In response to Tharoor’s remarks, Prasad said that while the standing committee already has other bills to scrutinise, the joint panel would have the sole agenda of discussing the draft data protection law.
Earlier in November 2019, Justice BN Srikrishna, who led the personal data protection framework for the country panel and a draft data protection bill in July 2018, said that he prefers the final version of the bill to be sent to a select committee of Parliament, for a review, before it becomes law.
To support personal data protection of users in India, the Srikrishna Committee also covered a vast part of data localisation, which calls for the storage of information locally in the country. According to the committee recommendations, critical data should be stored exclusively in India, while one copy of all personal data is required to be stored within the country.
However, the revised version of the PDP Bill, which will be tabled in the Parliament soon, contrary to the expectations, revised the language of the bill and lets companies transfer and process user data — including sensitive personal data — outside India after taking explicit consent from the user.
Meanwhile, the bill maintained its stance on data localisation and noted that the sensitive personal data needs to be stored within India as well. Recently, Srikrishna has also said the bill is “dangerous” and can turn India into an Orwellian state.