After promising a shaper bill to replace the contentious Personal Data Protection (PDP) Bill 2019, the government has finally proposed a new version of the Data Protection Bill, which aims at making the online world more accountable. Minister for Railways, Communications, Electronics & Information Technology Ashwini Vaishnaw announced the proposal of the new bill along with an amendment to the IT Act 2000, also known as the Digital Indian Act.

"We will be coming up with a new version of the Data Protection Bill, and the Digital India Act is also in the works. What we are looking at is making the online world more accountable for what is being published there," Vaishnaw said during the launch of the second batch of Cytrain Setu on Monday.

Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw
Union Minister Ashwini VaishnawIANS

In the address, the IT minister also noted that the government will be coming up with a new Telecom Bill besides the new laws to overhaul cyber laws. The exact timeline for the new bills wasn't shared, but the minister said it would be done sooner rather than later.

Withdrawal of PDP Bill 2019

Last month, the government withdrew the contentious Personal Data Protection (PDP) Bill 2019 which has seen 81 amendments in the past three years. It had said that a new, sharper bill that fits fit into the comprehensive legal framework and protects the data of billions of citizens would be introduced. The earlier bill drew intense scrutiny from privacy advocates, industry stakeholders and tech companies as it would have made compliance hard for startups and certain provisions such as data localisation were beyond the scope of data protection.

New Delhi-based privacy advocacy group Internet Freedom Foundation had said the bill "provides large exemptions to government departments, prioritises the interests of big corporations, and does not adequately respect your fundamental right to privacy".

Data protection
Data protectionIANS

The Bill was first brought in 2019 and was then referred to the Joint Committee.

The IT Minister had said that the decision to formulate a new Bill is to create a framework for organisational and technical measures in the processing of data, to lay down norms for social media platforms, cross-border transfer, accountability of entities processing data, remedies for unauthorised and harmful processing, to ensure the interest and security of the State and to establish a Data Protection Authority of India.