Why was the Personal Data Protection Bill withdrawn?
The Bill was referred to a Joint Committee of Parliament (JCP) and the JCP did a detailed exercise, a comprehensive review of the entire bill, and met many stakeholders. Based on these meetings and their report, the JCP recommended 81 amendments in a Bill of 99 sections. In addition, they also made 12 suggestions. So, considering all of those, we had to come up with a new Bill and the old Bill had to be withdrawn. The entire work on the drafting of the new Bill is almost complete. It is at a very advanced stage. We will go through the entire approval process soon and present the new Bill in the coming session or the forthcoming session.
What changes are expected in the new Bill?
The core principles remain the same. There is absolutely no change in that. It is more of accommodating everything that has been recommended and making sure that the Bill is neatly drafted. We will share it for public consultation very soon. Basically, it looks at a comprehensive overview. The core principles of Right to Privacy, which have been enshrined by the Supreme Court’s judgement, will remain. There is no change in conceptual pieces of the Right to Privacy framework.
There was criticism that the earlier Bill gave sweeping powers to the government. Will the new Bill be different?
Let the new Bill be presented. It is a very balanced, very neatly and comprehensively made Bill. We are looking at the entire thing from a comprehensive point of view – there is a telecom Bill, which we have given for consultation paper already. The IT Act of 2000 is being revamped. All these things put together create a good legal framework for our digital economy. We must have a safe, trusted internet and accountability from social media platforms. All those things are fundamental requirements for today’s digital economy and have been taken into consideration in the new draft.