PDP, or the Personal Data Protection bill, was the talk of the town when the current government proposed it in 2019. But it wasn’t in the limelight for good reasons. The bill proposed many amendments to the current data storage and processing methods for companies. Moreover, it sought unfettered access to the personal data of the citizens.
Ashvini Vaishnaw, the current IT minister, shared the news on Twitter about the withdrawal of PDP after 5 years. He explained that the JCP (Joint Parliamentary Committee) recommended 81 amendments in a bill of 99 sections. He also assured that a new bill was in the works.
What is Personal Data Protection bill?
Personal Data Protection Bill was introduced on 11 December 2019. The intention was to safeguard the privacy of users and lay down ground rules for storing and processing users’ data. While some of it made sense as companies often indulge in undue data collection.
The bill proposed that foreign companies who have set up shop in India maintain a local backup of the Indian citizens in the country. Currently, many companies based outside of India store customer data at their data centers which may or may not be in India.
This aspect of the bill sent shivers down the spine of many big tech companies which operate in India. Take the example of Facebook and Amazon, both of which have huge customer bases in India. It would cost them a fortune to set up data centers in India for local backup.
Another thoughtful proposition was that the users could request the companies to delete their personal data. But there were many glaring loopholes in the bill too. The bill allowed the government to access any user’s data for “national security” issues and the companies would have to share it.
Moreover, the bill exempted government institutions for security reasons. These were some of the few points that angered the opposition, and after much consideration, it was withdrawn. But a new bill is in the works as the government plans to build a Data Protection Authority in the country.