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Free flow of data at core of IT: Ashwini Vaishnaw

The first principle is that the usage of personal data by organisations must be done in a manner that is lawful, fair to the individuals concerned and transparent to individuals.

Free flow of data at core of IT: Ashwini Vaishnaw
The move from the minister comes a day before the eve of "Good Governance Day" celebrated by the government every year.

The government did not want to force companies based in friendly nations to mandatorily store citizens’ personal data within the country as that would have been against the principle on which digital economies function today, communications and IT minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said on Friday.

Speaking to FE after the government unveiled the draft of the new Data Protection Bill, Vaishnaw said, “The digital economy, the IT industry is based on flow of data between friendly countries, and we did not want to disturb this. That’s why the draft after extensive consultations with stakeholders decided not to force global firms to mandatorily store the data of citizens in the country as was provided in the earlier version of the Bill”.

The minister said that the Bill is a perfect balance between the interests of the citizens and companies.

Vaishnaw said the government had learnt a lesson from the mess which got created in the telecom sector due to the definition of adjusted gross revenue (AGR), and therefore went for a graded penalty system for data breaches. “Had we stuck to the provision of a penalty amounting to 2-4% of total worldwide turnover of data fiduciaries as was mentioned in the earlier Bill, at some stage it would have created a mess similar like the AGR did in the telecom sector, so it was best avoided,” he said.

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The minister said that non-personal data was also removed from the scope of the Bill as it’s best to address issues separately. “We have addressed issues related to telecom sector through the Telecom Bill. Personal data related issues have been addressed through this Bill. Other issues would be addressed through separate Bills as we move ahead.”

He said that simple language used in the drafting of the Bill, sector-agnostic approach, voluntary undertaking by individuals, graded penalty system, digital compliance framework, and the focus on Indian languages are the hallmarks which define the Bill.

Vaishnaw said the government held extensive consultation with all stakeholders and only then drafted the Bill. “I have received positive feedback from all sections on the Bill,” he said, adding that the Bill will be presented to Parliament in the Budget session.

He further said that seven principles guided the government in drafting the Bill.

The first principle is that the usage of personal data by organisations must be done in a manner that is lawful, fair to the individuals concerned and transparent to individuals.

The second of purpose limitation is that the personal data is used for the purposes for which it was collected.

The third principle of data minimisation is that only those items of personal data required for attaining a specific purpose must be collected. The fourth principle of accuracy of personal data is that reasonable effort is made to ensure that the personal data of the individual is accurate and kept up to date.

The fifth principle of storage limitation is that personal data is not stored perpetually by default. The storage should be limited to such duration as is necessary for the stated purpose for which personal data was collected.

The sixth is that reasonable safeguards are taken to ensure that there is no unauthorised collection or processing of personal data. This is intended to prevent personal data breach.

The seventh is that the person who decides the purpose and means of processing of personal data should be accountable for such processing.

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First published on: 19-11-2022 at 05:30 IST