We need a transparent and accessible Joint Parliamentary Committee on Data Protection!

To ensure people are brought to the forefront in determining their own data protection regime, we write to the Joint Parliamentary Committee with a few suggestions.

20 December, 2019
2 min read

Tl;dr

The Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019 has been sent to a Joint Parliamentary Committee post its introduction in the Lok Sabha on December 11, 2019. In the midst of worries of the creation of a separate Committee to avoid the supposed composition of the current Parliamentary Committee on Information Technology, we thought it would be best to write to the Joint Parliamentary Committee with a few suggestions on upholding the democratic spirit of this country.

High Hopes

In continuation with IFF's practice to ensure transparency and accountability from the bodies we engage with, our representation to the Joint Parliamentary Committee asks for just that. The current atmosphere in India brings to the forefront more now than ever, that the voices of its people be heard; that its people be included; that it be run by its people.

Every ask revolves around this exact theme; here are the suggestions we put forth:

  • Further civic participation: To ensure that the public be given the opportunity to provide their comments on the Bill, we ask that the Committee undertake a public consultation. But that's not it, we also asked that these responses be pro-actively circulated with all members of the committee and made public if possible.
  • Maintain inclusivity through indic language versions: Citing the good precedent set by changes to the language requirements established by the National Education Policy Draft, we stressed that the Committee ensure that the Bill be made available in various regional languages.
  • Make materials public: In addition to the comments and counter comments being made public, we suggested two additional materials which may benefit from publication when the report of the committee is tabled in parliament. Therefore, we asked that the minutes of Committee's meetings and any responses made by government ministries and papers which are circulated for the members, be made public. It'd just give us an all round understanding of the Bill, don't you think?
  • Public depositions: In continuing with the positive precedent set by various other committees, we thought this Committee should follow suit so made sure to request that academics, civil society representatives and technologists who can aid in strengthening the provisions of the Bill in favour of the Indian citizens, be invited to depose before it.

These are smaller beginning steps to ensuring India is given the data protection law it deserves; but as always when the going gets tough, the tough (hint hint, it's us) get going!

This joy ride will not be easy but we know we can rely on the support of our wonderful community, however, we need to grow this community in order to materialise the impact we want to achieve. Our goal for the end of this year is to reach 100 members and we're currently at 92! Not too bad right?

Important Documents

  1. Representation to the Joint Parliamentary Committee dated 19.12.2019 (link)

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