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Government withdraws data protection bill

The Centre on Wednesday withdrew the Personal Data Protection Bill, 2021 and said it would soon be replaced by "a comprehensive legal framework," that will be "designed to address all of the contemporary and future challenges of the digital ecosystem,".

The withdrawal is seen as a nod to the sustained pushback by global and local technology corporations, policy makers and privacy activists to the legislation first mooted as a "privacy bill" in 2017.

The "work on drafting of the new bill is almost is at a very advanced stage," IT minister Ashwini Vaishnaw told ET in an exclusive interview soon after presenting "reasons for the withdrawal" of the bill to fellow parliamentarians. "We will go through the process of approvals very soon and present (it) in the coming session or the forthcoming session of the Parliament," he said.

Earlier, in his address to Lok Sabha, Vaishnaw said the "Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019 was deliberated in great detail by the Joint Committee of Parliament (JCP). 81 amendments were proposed and 12 recommendations were made towards the comprehensive legal framework on the digital ecosystem."

ET was the first to report on February 17 that India may draft a completely new privacy bill by putting aside the current version of the bill that had been in the making for nearly five years but did not comprehensively address the requirements of the country's fast changing technology landscape.

The bill was tabled in the Parliament in 2019, and the JCP formed to review it had submitted its final report and the bill in December 2021.

The legislation, initially aimed at protecting the digital privacy rights of the country's burgeoning base of internet subscribers and a nascent data economy, underwent a series of changes to include elements on regulating social media, hardware companies, as well as provisions on data localisation and non-personal data. The legislation following JCP review drew flak from technology corporations and startups for what they termed as the "high cost of compliance".


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