India is sorely missing an all-encompassing legislation for protecting a citizen’s right to privacy. The Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019, which provides a framework for safeguarding the privacy of individuals’ personal data that is processed by various entities, was tabled in the Lok Sabha on December 11, 2019, and later referred to a Joint Parliamentary Committee for scrutiny. With the committee reported to have suggested 90-odd amendments, it will take time for the law to take shape.
Data harvesting has become a cause for concern not only in India but all across the world. In 2018, the UK Information Commissioner’s Office had fined Facebook 5,00,000 pounds for processing the personal data of users unfairly by allowing app developers access to their information and that of their friends ‘without sufficiently clear and informed consent’. Microblogging platform Koo, projected as a counter to Twitter, is under fire from critics for allegedly leaking users’ data. In another disturbing trend, classified evidence gathered by investigating agencies is being divulged to a section of the media, such as WhatsApp chats in the Sushant Singh Rajput case. India’s data protection legislation must have a self-regulatory mechanism for government entities, besides a clearly delineated set of rules for private players. What’s more, the law should inspire confidence among the consumers.