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DPDP Bill: Rights of citizens will be protected regardless of data storage location

A day after the Digital Personal Data Protection Bill 2023 Act was notified, Ashwini Vaishnaw, Minister of Communications and Electronics and Information Technology, sought to allay concerns about autonomy of the Data Protection Board (DPB) and exemptions to the government in the new law and underlined that the concerns of the industry have been balanced with the need for protection of individual data.

Talking about DPB’s autonomy and whether the selection criteria of the members makes it subservient to the Centre, he said that it would function independently like other regulators including the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) and the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI).

“Who appoints SEBI chairperson…government appoints. Who gives the salary or compensation to SEBI members, it is the government. Who decides the terms and conditions of employment, it’s the government. Does it make them any less independent? the answer is no. Independence comes from the structure of the regulator,” Vaishnaw told businessline in an interview.

The DPB envisaged in the new statute is tasked with enforcement of provisions of this Act. Members and Chairperson of the Board will be individuals with special knowledge or practical experience in fields such as law and IT, he said.

Terms & conditions
He said, here the law itself provides that the DPB will be an independent body. The law provides that the terms and conditions of employment cannot be changed by the government.

“The law provides that the regulator or any member, if they have dealt with any particular subject, they have to disclose. That’s where independence comes from. The people who understand law are saying this is the best possible construct. It will be a body of experts who understand digital economy,” he said.

On data storage
On storage of data outside the country, Vaishnaw said that whether the data are stored in India or outside, everybody has to follow the same regulations, same principles and same obligations under the DPDP Act. However, the Centre can also restrict such transfer to certain countries and territories.

“The rights of citizens will not be compromised whether the data are stored in India or stored outside India. Every sector will have very specific requirements…Everybody has to follow the same principles and those obligations will apply to intermediaries also. They will also have to take all the steps to protect our citizens’ personal data,” he added.

The draft DPDP Bill had an extensive consultation with every section in the society and stakeholder and received about 23,666 suggestions. The Bill was passed in the Lok Sabha on August 7 and in the Rajya Sabha on August 9. It got the President’s assent on August 11, thereby becoming an Act. The Hindu BusinessLine

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