India to get new data protection law, old bill withdrawn


India will have a new Data Protection Bill to govern tech companies that function in the country. The controversial Data Protection Bill that was being fiercely contested within the Parliament and among corporate entities has been withdrawn.

During the recently-concluded monsoon session of the parliament, the Data Protection Bill that was introduced in 2019 was withdrawn. The minister of communications, electronics and information technology had said that the bill was withdrawn on the basis of 81 amendments proposed by a Joint Parliamentary Committee that had been appointed to look into the provisions of the bill and make recommendations.

After the bill was officially withdrawn in the Lok Sabha, Ashwini Vaishnaw, Minister of Communications, Electronics & Information Technology, Government of India, had tweeted to explain the move: “Personal Data Protection Bill has been withdrawn because the JCP recommended 81 amendments in a bill of 99 sections. Above that it made 12 major recommendations. Therefore the bill has been withdrawn and a new bill will be presented for public consultation.”

The monsoon session, 2022 of the Parliament which commenced on July 18, 2022, was adjourned sine die on August 8. The session consisted of 16 sittings spread over a period of 22 days. During the session, 6 Bills were introduced in the Lok Sabha. 7 Bills were passed by the Lok Sabha and 5 Bills were passed by the Rajya Sabha. One bill, the Personal Data Protection Bill, was withdrawn.

The minister also said that a new, more comprehensive bill was being prepared and is likely to be introduced in the next session of Parliament. The ministry is now holding consultations with all stakeholders to come up with a framework for the new bill.

Rajeev Chandrashekhar, the Minister of State for Electronics & Technology tweeted that the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology withdrew the Personal Data Protection Bill from the Parliament and that it will soon be replaced by a comprehensive framework of global standard laws including digital privacy laws for contemporary and future challenges.

The data protection bill had become a hotly debated issue pitting tech giants and the government of India at loggerheads. The tech companies had lobbied hard against several provisions proposed by the legislation.

Senior Congress leader had tweeted: “Most unfortunate Personal Data Protection Bill 2019 as amended by Joint Committee of Parliament is being withdrawn by Govt. For full two years during height of wave 1 & 2 of COVID-19 MP’s across parties worked to better it. Big Tech never wanted this Law. Big Tech won. India lost.”