The Union minister of Electronics and Information Technology on Monday released an official memorandum for the formation of an expert committee to deliberate on data protection laws. The ministry also asked the committee to come up with a draft data protection Bill.
The committee, which will be chaired by former Supreme Court judge Justice BN Srikrishna, will have nine other members including Unique Identification Authority of India Chief Executive Officer Ajay Bhushan Pandey and Research Director of Vidhi Center For Legal Policy Arghya Sengupta.
Others in the committee include:
- Aruna Sundararajan, Secretary, Department of Telecom
- Professor Rajat Moona, Director, IIT-Raipur
- Gulshan Rai, National Cyber Security Co-ordinator
- Rishikesha T Krishnan, Director, IIM-Indore
- Rama Vedashree, CEO, Data Security Council of India
- Joint Secretary of the ministry of electronics and information technology
The note, accessed by Scroll.in, said that the government was aware of the rising need to have stronger data protection laws in the country as digital economy continues to grow. To this end, the committee will have a mandate to “identify key data protection issues in India and recommend methods of addressing them”.
“Meity [ministry of electronics and information technology] shall, in consultation with the chairperson and members, collect necessary information and provide it to the committee within eight weeks of the date of this OM to start its deliberations on the subject,” read the note. It adds that the report of the committee should be submitted as “expeditiously as possible” and that the expenditure of the members will be borne by their respective ministries and departments.
This comes at a time when the Supreme Court is hearing petitions to decide if privacy is a fundamental right in the light of Aadhaar being made mandatory for a host of welfare schemes. While the government has taken seemingly different positions on the subject in the court, it has maintained that the right to privacy is not guaranteed by the Constitution.
The challenges to Aadhaar come from various fronts, including concerns by citizens about storing and sharing their biometric information with the UIDAI. Recently, about 210 government websites were found to be leaking user data along with their Aadhaar numbers, which are considered sensitive information.
While UIDAI claims that user data in its repositories are safe and secure, the committee is supposed to design a broader framework that covers all other kinds of data and ensure that the ministry can deliberate on these issues as soon as possible.