Governance Now Visionary Talks Series

Seven principles for data protection: BN Srikrishna committee

The IT ministry has sought public feedback on the white paper by December 31

pratap

Pratap Vikram Singh | November 27, 2017 | Delhi


#right to privacy   #data security   #data privacy   #data protection   #BN Srikrishna committee   #MEITY  


The ministry of electronics and information technology (MEITY) has released a white paper on data protection framework, prepared by a committee of experts headed by justice BN Srikrishna. It has sought public feedback on the paper by December 31, 2017. 

 
The ministry had formed the committee in July to "study various issues relating to data protection in India and make specific suggestions on principles to be considered for data protection and suggest a draft data protection bill". The objective, the MEITY said, is to “ensure growth of the digital economy while keeping personal data of citizens secure and protected.”
 
Here are the seven key principles proposed in the 243-page white paper on data protection: 
 
1. Technology agnostic: The data protection law must take into account the continuous change in technology and standards of compliance.
 
2. Holistic application: The law must cover both the private sector and the government sector. The committee of experts, however, also talks about "differential obligations" in case of "certain legitimate state aims". 
 
3. Informed consent: The white paper talks about "informed consent" and not just consent. It says the consent should be "informed and meaningful". It is not clear what "informed consent" means. Whether it refers to collection of data from users while keeping them informed about the process of data collection or it refers to the usual sense of the word -- wherein users's permission will be sought first and they will have the right to opt out.
 
4.  Data minimisation: The data collected or being processes should be minimal -- only that data which is necessary for the purpose for which it is being sought. However, the white paper also adds, the data will also be collected for "..and other compatible purposes beneficial for the data subject".
 
5. Controller accountability: The committee is clear on fixing accountability of data controllers. It says, "The data controller should be held accountable for any processing of data, whether by itself or entities with whom it may have shared the data for processing."
 
6. Structured enforcement: The committee proposes to set up "a high-powered statutory authority", which “must co-exist with appropriately decentralised enforcement mechanisms."
 
7. Deterrent penalties: It proposes for "adequate" penalties for "wrongful processing" to ensure deterrence. 
 
In November, a group of citizens including eminent jurists and civil activists had 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 selection of the 'committee of experts'. The existing composition of the committee primarily includes either government officials or academicians and legal experts working for the government. The group demanded greater representation of citizens’ point of view. The committee's recommendations would lead to 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. 
 
 
For the list of the members of the committee and its terms of reference, click here 
 
For the white paper click here   
 
 
 

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