The purpose of 'Public' in 'Public Consultation', lest we merely consult.

Highlights

  • Background: The Draft Data Protection Bill was released for public consultation on August 14, 2018. While there have been several submissions, they were not made public. The Bill was not passed in the 2018 winter session of Parliament that it was initially introduced but press reports confirm it will be listed in this session of parliament.
  • Need for transparency: As this Bill moves toward becoming law, concerns grow with the not only visibility of its current state but also with its pre-existing content. IFF writes to Minister of Electronics and Information Technology, Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad emphasising the need for transparency.

Furthering the right kind of Privacy

The public consultation that took place in August 2018 for the Draft Personal Data Protection Bill, did not result with the submissions made by various stakeholders being made public. Essentially this defeats the purpose in providing information that would enable us to make better responses to any suggestions that would result in the dilution of privacy protections in India.

IFF filed two RTI’s with the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology on October 16, 2018 to understand the purpose in maintaining such secrecy. We asked for information of those who made submissions to the public consultation and the content of the submissions and if anyone else that may have aided the process of drafting the law or reviewing the submissions. However, we only received the number of submissions to the bill which was a total of 624, without their actual text being made public while the second query was blatantly rejected on the unavailability of information with the concerned Central Public Information Officer.

While awaiting responses to Second Appeals filed with the Central Information Commission, it seemed necessary to write to Hon'ble Shri. Ravi Shankar voicing our concerns (Read about it here).

Our representation reiterates the need for transparency in the public consultation procedure. The Draft Personal Data Protection Bill will most definitely revolutionise the current state of the industry; this requires that the industry and various other stakeholders be made aware of the current state of the Bill that is intended to be passed by Parliament.

IFF will continue to advocate for the privacy of the Indian citizens, the first step in this journey is to ensure compliance with the Pre-legislative Consultation Policy formulated by the Cabinet of Secretaries. We request that the procedure set by the policy involving at the very least a summary of the submissions provided.

As we hope our request is given due consideration, IFF continues ensure data protection and privacy moves to forefront as is needed in this day and age.

Important documents

  • Representation to Shri. Ravi Shankar Prasad dated 22.06.2019 (link)
  • Our larger work on data protection through the #SaveOurPrivacy campaign (link).

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