August 4 2022: On August 3, the Indian Government withdrew the Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019 from the Lok Sabha after the joint parliamentary committee suggested 81 changes to it.
IT Minister of State Rajeev Chandrasekhar tweeted: This will soon be replaced by a comprehensive framework of Global standard laws including Digital Privacy laws for contemporary & future challenge
The Bill sought to establish a Data Protection Authority in the country to protect an individual's data over cyber space and regulate the accessibility to personal data by companies and the government.
The original Bill, which was the culmination of a work that began around five years back after the formation of the Justice Srikrishna Committee, had been introduced in Lok Sabha in December 2019 following which it was referred to the Joint Committee of Parliament (JCP) which took nearly two years to submit its recommendations and present a draft bill to Lok Sabha on 16 December, 2021.
The bill was criticised by privacy experts as it was seen as being more in favour of the government rather than protecting privacy, which the Supreme Court held as a fundamental right in 2017. The withdrawn Bill had proposed had also sought to provide the government with powers to give exemptions to its probe agencies from the provisions of the Act, a move that was strongly opposed by opposition MPs.
Some opposition leaders, have criticised the withdrawal. Congress leader Manish Tewari claims that it signified a win for big tech, which “never wanted this law”.
Government claims it is now working “on a comprehensive framework of rules and laws to catalyse trillion dollar economy and India’s techade”.
Early reactions: Apar Gupta and Tejasi Panjiar write in Indian Express: “The reasons provided to justify the withdrawal of the bill are not convincing. Status quo in the unregulated collection and exploitation of personal data of millions of Indians is disturbing…..The decision lays waste years of labour and deliberation on a law essential for the protection of every Indian in a digitised society.