Indian government withdraws data protection bill from parliament
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Indian government withdraws data protection bill from parliament

The Indian government Wednesday withdrew its Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019 from the lower house of Parliament in a move that further delays the implementation of a comprehensive data protection regime in the country.

A document obtained by Medianama noted that the government was withdrawing the bill in light of the numerous amendments and recommendations proposed by the Joint Committee of Parliament (JCP). The document said that the government will present a new bill that “fits into the comprehensive legal framework” on the digital ecosystem.

Ashwini Vaishnaw, the Minister for Electronics & Information Technology, explained the government’s decision in a post on Twitter:

[The] Personal Data Protection Bill has been withdrawn because the JCP recommended 81 amendments in a bill of 99 sections. Above that it made 12 major recommendations. Therefore the bill has been withdrawn and a new bill will be presented for public consultation.

The bill was first introduced in the parliament in 2019, following the Justice Srikrishna Committee report of 2018, to provide a legal framework to protect individuals’ personal data and to establish a Data Protection Authority. The bill was then referred to a JCP for examination which came out with its report in December last year.

Over the years the bill has received severe pushback from various stakeholders–from privacy advocates to civil society organizations–who have criticized, among other things, the broad exemptions to the bill’s provisions carved out in government’s favor, the Data Protection Authority’s lack of independence, the inclusion of non-personal data, the priority given to economic interests, and the failure to adequately safeguard citizens’ privacy and personal data.