Excerpt from Indianexpress Article – Published on Aug 22, 2023

On August 9, 2023, the Rajya Sabha unanimously approved the Digital Personal Data Protection Bill (DPDP), marking the culmination of a decade-long journey. This significant development has sparked a range of reactions. According to the government, the major goal of the legislation is to strike a delicate balance between securing personal data and facilitating its lawful processing, thereby stimulating innovation and advancing economic growth. However, the bill’s provisions have raised concerns due to their distinct treatment of the government’s role.

The Act underscores that certain instances, such as “security of the state, maintenance of public order, or preventing incitement to any cognisable offense,” would fall beyond the purview of the law. Notably, this extends to the central government’s processing of personal data obtained from instrumentalities. In essence, the state could potentially use grounds of national security to justify its actions. This concept draws parallels to past instances where leaders invoked national security to validate controversial decisions. For instance, President Donald Trump employed national security as a rationale for imposing steel tariffs in the US, even if it meant contravening WTO commitments.

The Digital Personal Data Protection Bill (DPDP) bill’s passing, while unanimous, has sparked debates about the potential implications of exempting government actions from the legislation’s scope. Critics argue that such exclusions could undermine the very principles the bill seeks to uphold — transparency, accountability, and individual data rights. The concerns stem from the possibility of unchecked government surveillance and data usage under the pretext of national security.

This development aligns with global discussions on finding the right balance between data protection, privacy, and state interests. Striking this balance is pivotal to ensuring citizens’ rights are respected while acknowledging legitimate concerns related to national security and public order.

As India prepares to implement the Digital Personal Data Protection Bill (DPDP) bill, these debates continue to resonate within legal and privacy circles, reflecting the complexity of regulating personal data in an era of rapid technological advancements. The journey from the bill’s inception to its passage underscores the intricate nature of harmonizing individual rights, government interests, and economic progress within the digital landscape.

To delve deeper into this topic, please read the full article on Indianexpress.