ABLI submitting comments to the Joint Parliamentary Committee on the Personal Data Protection Bill of India (2019)

On 8 March 2020, ABLI's Board of Governors has approved the submission of comments to the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) on the Personal Data Protection Bill of India (2019). The Bill, introduced in the Lower Chamber of the Indian Parliament in December 2019, was referred to JPC and opened for comments in January 2020.

ABLI's comments do not discuss the policies which undergird the Bill and are beyond its remit. Rather, they note that virtually all jurisdictions in Asia are currently in the process of adopting or reviewing their data protection laws and that, in order for these frameworks to achieve their aims, it is important that they be compatible or "interoperable" with one another, regionally and globally. In this context, and based on its comparative experience, ABLI has wished to point the JPC to a series of points on which the Bill departs from the frameworks of India’s Asian neighbours which can hamper the compatibility of its data protection framework with the laws of the region. In a similar vein, ABLI notes that several key provisions of the Bill could benefit from further clarification.

Legal uncertainty and legal fragmentation have a proven negative impact on cross-border trade and economic activities in any area of the law, often beyond lawmakers' original intentions. Their negative impact in the context of data protection is analysed in the comments.

Among the salient matters set out by ABLI for consideration by the JPC are some key definitions and concepts (e.g sensitive or critical personal data; personal, anonymised data and non-personal data; significant data fiduciary; social media intermediary); the material scope of the Act (‘BPO exemption'); transfers of personal data outside of India; some accountability requirements weighing on 'data fiduciaries'; and features of the future Data Protection Authority of India.

These comments are not meant to be exhaustive and ABLI has made itself available for further contributing its comparative experience to the work of the JPC.

The full text of ABLI's submission is available here. More about ABLI's Data Privacy Project is available here.


Photo credit: Asia Times

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