Aparajita Bharti: This is a more industry-friendly Bill than earlier


Aparajita Bharti is founding partner, TQH. Delhi based TQH was founded in the year 2017 with the express intent of working on complex public policy problems in the dynamically evolving Indian ecosystem. Set up as a consulting firm, TQH is said to have been conceptualised to bridge the gap that exists in the policy space. In an interaction with Times of India Tech, Bharti talks about the proposed Digital Personal Data Protection Bill 2022 that is up for consultation.
Q. What does the new PDP bill mean for internet users in India?
This Bill has been long awaited. Indian policymakers, civil society and industry have learnt a lot from the previous rounds of consultation and from the experience of regulators in other countries in the past few years. To ensure the Right to Privacy, we need enabling legislation such as this one. The Bill gives certain rights to ‘Data Principals’, i.e. all internet users and lays out the duties of ‘data fiduciaries’ and ‘Data Processors- organisations, govt or private entities that hold our data.
A good data protection legislation would increase trust in the digital ecosystem by setting the rules of the game. However, in the current form that the Bill has come there is much to be desired. The most worrying aspect is that the government still has given itself many exemptions, therefore citizens cannot hold the state accountable for invasion of privacy. These coupled with the lack of checks and balances in our law enforcement is worrisome.
Q. Don’t the new proposed rules impact the government’s localisation effort?
The government has made cross-border data flows easier in this draft. This is a good step. We operate in a global economy and in our conversations with startups and industry, they constantly highlighted how any restrictions on cross-border data flows will impact their operations, drive up their costs and prevent them from using world-class global tech products. It is good to see that the government has taken this feedback into account. However, it must be noted that if this draft goes through, the government of India may have to engage in bi-lateral negotiations with other jurisdictions like the US and Europe to have a privacy shield.
Q. Which Sector do you think will be most affected by this PDP bill?
The Bill is a horizontal legislation so it will impact every entity in the digital economy. However, this is a more industry-friendly Bill than earlier, Indian start-ups will benefit from this change.
Q. Does the new law also mean that children will require parental consent to open an account on online platforms?
All online platforms require the collection and processing of certain types of data and by requiring parental consent for all children below the age of 18, de-facto, parental consent may be required for almost all activities online. However, unless the age verification mechanism is made clear, this will be difficult to implement. Apart from the implementation aspect, this provision is out of touch with reality where so many teenagers are sophisticated users of the internet. We need graded consent for children between the age of 13-18 and we need to evaluate their privacy not just online, but also in their homes and in their communities. There is a need to balance the safety and agency of children.





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