21 June, 2021

No Threat To State’s Right To Know You

Proposed data ­protection law won’t protect personal data from the government

Illustration by Saji C.S.
No Threat To State’s Right To Know You

On December 11, more than two years after the Supreme Court said privacy is a fundamental right, the Personal Data Protection Bill was tabled in Parliament by minister of electronics and information technology, Ravi Shankar Prasad. The bill seeks to establish who can access and benefit from data generated by Indian citizens. Besides being expansive and ambiguous, its provisions could lead to an Orwellian state, warn experts.

Besides the personal data we generate (names, emails etc), there is also non-personal data: for example, traffic data that Uber and Ola have, or data with e-commerce companies such as Amazon and Flipkart. A lot of insights—say, on somebody’s socio-economic status—can be drawn from such data. The bill applies to the purposes and extent to which companies can collect personal data. It has provisions for deletion of personal data post-use and withdrawal of consent by the data principal (the person to whom the personal data ­relates) in most cases as well. It also mandates the creation of a data protection authority, with one...

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