Have diverse representation in data protection panel: Citizens group

A committee of experts was set up to deliberate on a data protection framework for India

GN Bureau | November 6, 2017


#Nikhil Dey   #Upendra Baxi   #AP Shah   #right to information   #privacy   #data protection   #Aadhaar   #Anjali Bharadwaj  
(Illustration: Ashish Asthana)
(Illustration: Ashish Asthana)

 A group of citizens including eminent jurists and civil activists have written to Justice BN Srikrishna, retired supreme court judge and chairperson, committee of experts on data protection framework, to protest against the non-transparency in the committee of experts and its composition and selection of members. 

The existing composition of the committee primarily includes either government officials or academicians and legal experts working for the government. The group has demanded greater representation of citizens’ point of view. 
 
Early this year the government had constituted a committee of experts to deliberate on a data protection framework for India. The committee's recommendations would lead to a legislation, laying the contours of privacy in India, building up from the historic judgment passed by a nine-member constitution bench of the supreme court. 
 
"It would also help to bring the point of view of the citizens within the privacy and data protection draft framework, particularly with regard to issues of consent. It is vital that the idea of consent be central to the proposed data protection framework. The framework must be both relevant to people and take into consideration Indian realities, so that citizens are able to differentiate between manufactured and informed consent," the group said in its letter issued on November 5.  
 
"Another critical aspect of the data protection framework is to define a complementary relationship between the right to information and the right to privacy. For this, we strongly recommend  the  inclusion  of  representatives  of  the  Right to  Information  movement," wrote the citizen's group, which assembled under the Rethink Aadhaar umbrella.
 
The group included Justice AP Shah (former chief justice of Delhi high court and chairperson of a similar committee in the past), professor Upendra Baxi, Gopalkrishna Gandhi, Aruna Roy, Nikhil Dey, Anjali Bharadwaj and Prashant Bhushan.  
 
The Rethink Aadhaar campaign has demanded the following: 1) all available information related to the formation of the expert committee, 2) the data protection bill drafted by MeitY that is being considered by this committee, 3) composition of the working groups that have been formed and 4) minutes of all the meetings and complete information relating to the formation of this committee. 
 
The committee of experts has the following members: Aruna Sundararajan, secretary, department of telecom, Ajay Bhushan Pandey, CEO, UIDAI, Ajay Kumar,  additional secretary, MeitY, Professor Rajat Moona, Director, lIT, Raipur, Gulshan Rai, National Cyber Security Coordinator, Professor Rishikesha T. Krishnan, Director, IIM, Indore, Arghya Sengupta, Research Director, Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy -- a New Delhi-based think tank that assisted the government in drafting the Aadhaar Act, 2016, and its regulations, Rohini Nilekani, spouse of Nandan Nilekani (former Chairperson UIDAI), Rama Vedashree, CEO, DSCI.
 

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