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Justice Srikrishna Committee Miffed at Timing of TRAI Recommendations

A day after Telecom Secretary Aruna Sundararajan termed TRAI’s recent recommendations on data privacy and ownership as “timely and valuable”, Justice BN Srikrishna Committee, which is drafting India’s data protection and privacy law, is reportedly miffed at the timing of suggestions issued by the telecom regulator.

According to a report in The Economic Times, the panel fears that TRAI’s recommendations will delay the submission of its own report, which due later this month. “Next week somebody will make some recommendations and that will have to be merged, then again somebody will make some other recommendations,” a committee member told the daily.

On Wednesday, Sundararajan had said the Telecom Department will consider all suggestions related to the telecom sector while others will be looked into by Justice Srikrishna panel that is crafting the overarching data protection law.

The recommendations are in tune with the government’s existing stance on protecting privacy and data rights of individuals, Telecom Secretary Aruna Sundararajan had said.

“There are two types of recommendations, one which pertain to telecom sector where primarily responsibility is on the Telecom Department…so those recommendations we will be considering within the Department. The general recommendation that TRAI has given… on entire digital system…will be looked into by the Justice BN Srikrishna committee,” she said.

“DoT will have to take an institutional view … but this is very much in line with what the courts have said in the matter and what the government has already said on protecting privacy and data rights of individuals,” Sundararajan added.

She said that TRAI’s assertion that data belongs to users is in sync with the current narrative of Indian telecom market, that places customers and users at the centerstage.

“What TRAI has said about data belonging to users is in line with what’s emerging in Indian market, overall…that is…putting customers and users in the centre,” she said.

TRAI’s recommendations and inputs are extremely “valuable and timely”, Sundararajan said adding that Justice Srikrishna panel, too, is expected to finalise its views on data privacy law shortly.

Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) Chairman R S Sharma had recently said that mobile devices and apps are like ‘faucets’ to the telecom pipe and should be subjected to similar rules as telecom operators till an overarching data protection law is put in place to safeguard consumer rights.

Asserting that TRAI has not overstepped its mandate while calling for regulation of all digital entities handling consumer data, Sharma has emphasised that users are the primary owners of their data.

TRAI earlier this week termed entities controlling and processing user data as “mere custodians” and recognised individuals as the actual owners of personal information, as it also called for regulation of all digital entities handling consumer data.

In significant recommendations concerning privacy, TRAI argued that firms collecting user data don’t have a right over it, and emphasised that consumers’ consent is a must for obtaining it.

Describing the existing data protection framework as inadequate, the TRAI in a set of recommendations to Telecom Department has also said that companies should not use meta-data to identify users and should disclose any data breaches.

The government, it has said, must notify policy framework to regulate devices, operating systems, browsers and applications. Batting for telecom consumers, TRAI had also suggested that users be granted the right to choice, consent and to be forgotten to safeguard privacy. – Business Today

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