White Paper of the Committee of Experts on Data Protection Framework for India

The Government of India has set up our Committee of Experts to study various issues relating to data protection in India, make specific suggestions on principles underlying a data ...

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Last Date- Jan 01,2018 00:00 AM IST (GMT +5.30 Hrs)

The Government of India has set up our Committee of Experts to study various issues relating to data protection in India, make specific suggestions on principles underlying a data protection bill and draft such a bill. The objective is to “ensure growth of the digital economy while keeping personal data of citizens secure and protected.”

The issue of data protection is important both intrinsically and instrumentally. Intrinsically, a regime for data protection is synonymous with protection of informational privacy. As the Supreme Court observed in Puttaswamy,

“Informational privacy is a facet of the right to privacy. The dangers to privacy in an age of information can originate not only from the state but from non-state actors as well. We commend to the Union Government the need to examine and put into place a robust regime for data protection. The creation of such a regime requires a careful and sensitive balance between individual interests and legitimate concerns of the state.”

Instrumentally, a firm legal framework for data protection is the foundation on which data-driven innovation and entrepreneurship can flourish in India. Fostering such innovation and entrepreneurship is essential if India is to lead its citizens and the world into a digital future committed to empowerment, experiment and equal access.

A carefully formulated data protection law is necessary for fulfilling both these objectives. It is our Committee’s view that the law we draft must be cognisant of international and comparative practices in this regard. Doing otherwise in our increasingly interconnected world would be naïve. At the same time, the law must be acutely aware of the views of Indians, particularly the common man and woman, perhaps new to data but with clear views on right and wrong, benefit and harm.

To serve these two purposes, a White Paper has been drafted to solicit public comments on what shape a data protection law must take. The White Paper outlines the issues that a majority of the members of the Committee feel require incorporation in a law, relevant experiences from other countries and concerns regarding their incorporation, certain provisional views based on an evaluation of the issues vis-à-vis the objectives of the exercise, and specific questions for the public. On the basis of the responses received, we will conduct public consultations with citizens and stakeholders shortly to hear all voices that wish and need to be heard on this subject.

Since the task of identifying key data protection issues, examining international best practices and recommending a draft bill is a task of considerable magnitude, this White Paper is necessarily lengthy. However, for the benefit of those who may not have either the time or the inclination to peruse the contents of the White Paper fully, a concise summary is provided in Part V, containing the key principles and questions for public consultation.

Drafting a data protection law for India is a complex exercise. But as the scriptures say:

वादे वादे जायते तत्त्वबोध:
[From each debate, there arises knowledge of the Ultimate Truth]

With your inputs and our collective aim of both protecting and empowering citizens, we are certain that the law that India drafts will not only serve our own, but will also be a model for the world to adopt.

Last Date of submission is 31st December, 2017

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