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August 4, 2017

Justice BN Srikrishna to head Committee for data protection framework

NEW DELHI: Justice B N Srikrishna, former judge of the Supreme Court of India will head a Committee of experts which has been formed to deliberate on a data protection framework for the country. The government led ten-member committee will “identify key data protection issues in India and recommend methods of addressing them.”

ET had first reported on July 18 that the government has created a committee led by the ministry of electronics and IT to draft a data protection law and the government is looking at roping in imminent jurists and lawyers to create a forward looking legislation. ET had also reported how the government has sought the help of a legal think tank — the Vidhi Centre For Legal Policy — which was instrumental in drafting of the Aadhaar Act as well as the Bankruptcy Code.

Aruna Sundararajan, Secretary, Department of Telecom, Ajay Bhushan CEO, Unique Identification Authority of India, Gulshan Rai, National Cyber Security Coordinator and Arghya Sengupta, Research Director, Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy are other members of the committee.
According to the government order, the terms of reference of the committee include, “To make specific suggestions for consideration of the Central Government on principles to be considered for data protection in India and suggest a draft data protection bill.”

It added that the ministry of electronics and IT shall in consultation with the Chairperson and members, collect necessary information and provide it to the Committee within 8 weeks to enable it to start its deliberations.

“The Government of India is cognizant of the growing importance of data protection in India. The need to ensure growth of the digital economy while keeping personal data of citizens secure and protected is of utmost importance,” the office memorandum said.

Even though the Information Technology Act contains certain provisions about data protection and handling, experts are of the opinion that India needs a fresh data protection law with the increased digitisation led by Aadhaar, the Goods and Service Tax and the push towards a digital economy. IT Act may also be inadequate to deal with the current requirements since it was drafted almost 17 years ago in 2000 and was amended last in 2008.

In an earlier interview to ET, Sengupta of Vidhi had said, “In the last 5-6 years there has been a quantum leap in the world of technology which has been driven by trends such as proliferation of social media, growth of ecommerce leading to boom in transactions over the Internet and demonetisation, which has pushed more people into the digital economy, so the IT act may have to be obviously reconsidered in the light of these developments.”
This is the first time that India has started work on a specific data protection law, which is expected to look at aspects such as data sovereignty, data retention and responsibilities of government, companies as well as individuals while handling third party data.

The other members of the committee will include Ajay Kumar, Additional Secretary, MeitY, Rama Vedashree, CEO, Data Security Council of India, Rishikesha T. Krishnan, Director, IIM, Indore and Rajat Moona, director, lIT, Raipur.


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