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Presidential Support for Digital Personal Data Protection Bill Amid Surveillance Concerns

The Digital Personal Data Protection Bill, 2023 (DPDP Bill), together with three other laws, including the Delhi Services Bill, was approved by both chambers of parliament and received President Droupadi Murmu’s assent. The DPDP legislation proposes a fine of up to Rs 250 crore on businesses for exploiting or neglecting to secure people’s digital data, with the goal of protecting the privacy of Indian residents.

Even though opposition lawmakers staged a walkout in protest at the situation in Manipur, the Bill was approved by both chambers of parliament. The law includes rules to prevent internet platforms from abusing people’s data and imposes fines of up to Rs 250 crore for any data breach. It also sets a number of compliance criteria for the collecting and processing of personal data. After receiving the President’s approval, the Government of India published a gazette notice for the Digital Personal Data Protection Act.

Objections to the measure
Opposition politicians and organizations supporting fair internet rights have both criticized the new law. Concerns about the bill’s potential effects on the Right to Information (RTI) Act, which was established in 2005, were among them. It compromises privacy, gives the government too many exemptions, and fails to create an independent regulator, according to a statement from the digital rights organization Access Now. The organization said that the bill also has the potential to boost censorship and strengthen the government’s control over personal information.

The Editors Guild of India had highlighted worries about the bill’s potential effects on press freedom before it was passed. The organization said that it “creates an enabling framework for citizen surveillance, including of journalists and their sources.”

The measure, according to senior Congressman M. Veerappa Moily, is “regressive” and is meant to establish a “emergency on a permanent basis.” According to him, the law would change the RTI Act to exclude any personal information about persons, which would also allow ministers and government employees to decide not to disclose information in their responses to RTI requests.

 

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