The Centre on Wednesday withdrew the Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019 after the Joint Committee of Parliament recommended 81 changes in the proposed law, Union Information and Technology Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said.
“Above that it [the committee] made 12 major recommendations,” Vaishnaw tweeted. “Therefore the Bill has been withdrawn and a new bill Bill be presented for public consultation.”
The Bill approved by the Union Cabinet in December 2019 proposed to impose restrictions on the use of personal information of people without their explicit consent. The items covered by the draft Bill included consent, personal data, exemptions that can be granted, storage restrictions for personal data and individual rights.
In November, several members of the parliamentary committee, including Congress MPs Manish Tewary and Jairam Ramesh, had expressed their dissent after the panel adopted its draft report on the law.
Among many things, Ramesh had said that he was compelled to submit a dissent note as he could not convince the panel to accept the amendments he proposed to sections 35 and 12 of the Bill.
Section 35 of the now proposed law gave the Centre power to exempt any government agency from the purview of the Bill in the interest of sovereignty and integrity of India, security of state, foreign relations and public order.
Section 12 provided for exceptions to the condition under which the government can collect the personal data of individuals without their consent.
On Section 35, Ramesh proposed to make parliamentary approval mandatory for government agencies for exempting any agencies from the purview of the law.
On Section 12, the Congress MP proposed adding “proportionate” as a condition besides necessity for collecting personal data of individual without their consent. Ramesh cited a Supreme Court verdict to argue that any restriction of a person’s fundamental right must pass a proportionality test.
The Bill has also faced criticism for big technology firms and civil society groups, who had raised questions on the open-ended exceptions given to the government in the proposed that allowed surveillance, according to The Indian Express.