India presently has an estimated 76 crore active Internet users
The government wants to establish a detailed rulebook for digital players
The aim is to safeguard the personal data of Indians against exploitation
Consent-centric PDPB is expected to bring more transparency in India
India's much awaited data protection law is expected to come into effect between July and August this year. The regulation is aimed at reforming the tech-reliant relationship between consumers and the market. Rajeev Chandrasekhar, the Minister of State for Electronics and Information Technology has claimed that these ‘behavioural changes' in India's technology sector will secure the user data collected from Indians within the nation, while helping technology firms operate in the country in compliance with the law. During the recent India Fintech Conclave (IFC), Chandrasekhar said that the upcoming data protection bill willl change the way that people's personal data is being harvested by companies and social networking platforms in present day.
“The days that anonymised personal data will be stored for many years and learning models be created on top of that, will also certainly, will have to be replaced by something that is more instantaneous in terms of learning and storing,” Chandrasekhar said at the time.
The PDPB is said to focus largely on protecting the private details of Indians Internet users against being exploited by foreign intermediaries as well as notorious cyber criminals. Its previous version, called the Personal Data Protection Bill 2019 was revoked in August last year. With the growth and advancement in India's overall tech space, the government says it felt the need to make the upcoming legislation around data protection more ‘comprehensive' and detailed.
The bill outlines the manner India expects tech firms to collect the personal data of Indian citizens with transparency and consent of the users. These details include their names, numbers, email addresses as well as bank details for simple, day-to-day transactions like booking tickets or signing up for classes. The aim is to bring transparency in the relationship of customers and service providers.
Companies that require the collection of users' KYC details will have to inform the Indian authorities where and for how long do they intend on storing the collected details. If the data is only required on a temporary basis, the PDPB will enforce the disclosure of an end-date by when all the unnecessary data must be erased.
The PDPB will further monitor whether or not the companies are using the collected user data for the same purpose. Violations could lead to legal action against these firms.
Citizens will have a say in matters of the storage of the data of Indian nationals, especially collected by international companies. The focus is to curb chances of any unauthorised misuse of personal details of Indian citizens that could expose them to physical or financial risks.
Indian Internet users will also get the right to obtain information as well as seek correction and erasure of their data under this Act. Once approved as a law, this bill will ensure that companies are answerable to their users about their complaints and grievances.
In the last two years, four drafts of the PDPB was reportedly extended to the Parliament and withdrawn, only to release the most precise version of the regulations in one go.
The bill will also require companies to obtain consent from legal guardians of minors before collecting their details. Age verification for Internet services will be mandated by the PDPB.
On 2 March, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Communications and Information Technology has given a "thumbs up" for the revised draft of the data protection law.
The bill will however, empower India's central government to exempt processing by government agencies from the provisions if it concerns the interest such as the security of the state and maintenance of public order.
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Radhika Parashar is a senior correspondent for Gadgets 360. She has been reporting on tech and telecom for the last three years now and will be focussing on writing about all things crypto. Besides this, she is a major sitcom nerd and often replies in Chandler Bing and Michael Scott references. For tips or queries you could reach out to her at RadhikaP@ndtv.com.