CIS LogoBy Elonnai Hickok

The Centre for Internet and Society has recently received a leaked version of the draft Privacy Bill 2014 that the Department of Personnel and Training, Government of India has drafted.

This represents the third leak of potential privacy legislation for India that we know of, with publicly available versions having leaked in April 2011 and September 2011.

When compared to the September 2011 Privacy Bill, the text of the 2014 Bill includes a number of changes, additions, and deletions.  Below is an outline of significant changes from the September 2011 Privacy Bill to the 2014 Privacy Bill:

  • Scope: The 2014 Bill extends the right to Privacy to all residents of India. This is in contrast to the 2011 Bill, which extended the Right to Privacy to citizens of India.  The 2014 Bill furthermore recognizes the Right to Privacy as a part of Article 21 of the Indian Constitution and extends to the whole of India, whereas the 2011 Bill did not explicitly recognize the Right to Privacy as being a part of Article 21, and excluded Jammu and Kashmir from its purview.
  • Definitions: The 2014 Bill includes a number of new definitions, redefines existing terms, and deletes others.

Terms that have been added in the 2014 Bill and the definitions

  1. Personal identifier: Any unique alphanumeric sequence of members, letters, and symbols that specifically identifies an individual with a database or a data set.
  2. Legitimate purpose: A purpose covered under this Act or any other law for the time being in force, which is certain, unambiguous, and limited in scope for collection of any personal data from a data subject.
  3. Competent authority : The authority which is authorized to sanction interception or surveillance, as the case may be, under this Act or rules made there under or any other law for the time being in force.
  4. Notification: Notification issued under this Act and published in the Official Gazette
  5. Control : And all other cognate forms of expressions thereof, means, in relation to personal data, the collection or processing of personal data and shall include the ability to determine the purposes for and the manner in which any personal data is to be collected or processed.
  6. Telecommunications system: Any system used for transmission or reception of any communication by wire, radio, visual or other electromagnetic means but shall not include broadcasting services.
  7. Privacy standards: The privacy standards or protocols or codes of practice.  developed by industry associations.

Terms that have been re-defined in the 2014 Bill from the 2011 Bill and the 2014 Bill definitions

  1. Communication data:The data held or obtained by a telecommunications service provider in relation to a data subject including the data usage of the telecommunications
  2. Data subject : Any living individual, whose personal data is controlled by any person
  3. Interception: In relation to any communication in the course of its transmission through a telecommunication system, any action that results in some or all of the contents of that communication being made available, while being transmitted, to a person other than the sender or the intended recipient of the communication.
  4. Person: Any natural or legal person and shall include a body corporate, partnership, society, trust, association of persons, Government company, government department, urban  local body, or any other officer, agency or instrumentality of the state.
  5. Sensitive personal data: Personal data relating to: (a) physical and mental health including medical history, (b) biometric, bodily or genetic information, (c) criminal convictions (d) password, (e) banking credit and financial data (f) narco analysis or polygraph test data, (g) sexual orientation.  Provided that any information that is freely available or accessible in public domain or to be furnished under the Right to Information Act 2005 or any other law for time being in force shall not be regarded as sensitive personal data for the purposes of this Act.
  6. Individual: a resident of Indian
  7. Covert surveillance: covert Surveillance” means obtaining private information about an individual and his private affairs without his knowledge and includes: (i) directed surveillance which is undertaken for the purposes of specific investigation or specific operation in such a manner as is likely to result in the obtaining of private information about a person whether or not that person was specifically identified in relation to the investigation or operation; (ii) intrusive surveillance which is carried out by an individual or a surveillance device  in relation to anything taking place on a residential premise or in any private vehicle. It also covers use of any device outside the premises or a vehicle wherein it can give information of the same quality and detail as if the device were in the premises or vehicle; (iii) covert human intelligence service which is information obtained by a person who establishes or maintains a personal or other relationship with an individual for the covert purpose of using such a relationship to obtain or to provide access to any personal information about that individual
  8. Re-identify: means the recovery of data from an anonymised data, capable of identifying a data subject whose personal data has been anonymised;
  9. Process: “process” and all other cognate forms of expressions thereof, means any operation or set of operations, whether carried out through automatic means or not by any person or organization, that relates to:(a) collation, storage, disclosure, transfer, updating, modification, alteration or use of personal data; or (b) the merging, linking, blocking, degradation or anonymisation of personal data;
  10. Direct marketing: Direct Marketing means sending of a commercial communication to any individual
  11. Data controller:  any person who controls, at any point in time, the personal data of a data subject but shall not include any person who merely provides infrastructure for the transfer or storage of personal data to it data controller;
  12. Government: the Central Government or as the case may be, the State Government and includes the Union territory Administration, local authority or any agency and instrumentality of the Government;

Terms that have been removed from the 2014 Bill that were in the 2011 Bill and the 2011 definition:

  1. Consent: Includes implied consent
  2. Maintain: Includes maintain, collect, use, or disseminate.
  3. Data processor: In relation to personal data means any person (other than the employee of the data controller), who processes the data on behalf of the data controller.
  4. Local authority: A municipal committee, district board, body of port commissioners, council, board or other authority legally entitled to, or entrusted by the Government with, the control or management of a municipal or local fund.
  5. Prescribed: Prescribed by rules made under this Act.
  6. Surveillance: Surveillance undertaken through installation and use of CCTVs and other system which capture images to identify or monitor individuals (this was removed from the larger definition of surveillance.)
  7. DNA: Cell in the body of an individual, whether collected from a cheek, cell, blood cell, skin cell or other tissue, which allows for identification of such individual when compared with other individual.

Terms that have remained broadly (with some modification) the same between the 2014 Bill and 2011 Bill (as per the 2014 Bill definition):

  1. Authority: The Data Protection Authority of India
  2. Appellate tribunal: the Cyber Appellate Tribunal established under Sub-Section (1) of section n48 of the Information Technology Act, 2000.
  3. Personal data: Any data which relates to a data subject, if that data subject can be identified from that data, either directly or indirectly, in conjunction with other data that the data controller has or is likely to have and includes any expression of opinion about such data subject.
  4. Member: Member of the Authority
  5. Disclose: and all other cognate forms of expression thereof, means disclosure, dissemination, broadcast, communication, distribution, transmission, or make available in any manner whatsoever, of personal data.
  6. Anonymised: The deletion of all data that identifies the data subject or can be used to identify the data subject by linking such data to any other data of the data subject, by the data controller.
  • Exceptions to the Right to Privacy: According to the 2011 Bill, the exceptions to the Right to Privacy included:
  1. Sovereignty, integrity and security of India, strategic, scientific or economic interest of the state
  2. Preventing incitement to the commission of any offence
  3. Prevention of public disorder or the detection of crime
  4. Protection of rights and freedoms of others
  5. In the interest of friendly relations with foreign state
  6. Any other purpose specifically mentioned in the Act.

The 2014 Bill reflects almost all of the exceptions defined in the 2011 Bill, but removes ‘detection of crime’ from the list of exceptions. The 2014 Bill also qualifies that the application of each exception must be adequate, relevant, and not excessive to the objective it aims to achieve and must be imposed on the manner prescribed – whereas the 2011 Bill stated only that the application of exceptions to the Right to Privacy cannot be disproportionate to the purpose sought to be achieved.

  • Acts not to be considered deprivations of privacy:  The 2011 Bill lists five instances that  will not be considered a deprivation of privacy  – namely
  1. For journalistic purposes unless it is proven that there is a reasonable expectation of privacy,
  2. Processing data for personal or household purposes,
  3. Installation of surveillance equipment for the security of private premises,
  4. Disclosure of information via the Right to Information Act 2005,
  5. And any other activity exempted under the Act.

The 2014 limits these instances to:

  1. The processing of data purely for personal or household purposes,
  2. Disclosure of information under the Right to Information Act 2005,
  3. And any other action specifically exempted under the Act.
  • Privacy Principles:  Unlike the 2011 Bill, the 2014 Bill defines nine specific privacy principles: notice, choice and consent, collection limitation, purposes limitation, access and correction, disclosure of information, security, openness, and accountability. The Privacy Principles will apply to all existing and evolving practices.
  • Provisions for Personal Data: Both the 2011 Bill and the 2014 Bill have provisions that apply to the processing of personal and sensitive personal data. The 2011 Bill includes provisions addressing the:
  1. Collection of personal data,
  2. Processing of personal data,
  3. Data quality,
  4. Provisions relating to sensitive personal data,
  5. Retention of personal data,
  6. Sharing (disclosure) of personal data,
  7. Security of personal data,
  8. Notification of breach of security,
  9. Access to personal data by data subject,
  10. Updation of personal data by data subject
  11. Mandatory processing of data,
  12. Trans border flows of personal data.

Of these, the 2014 Bill broadly (though not verbatim) reflects the 2011 Bill provisions relating to the:

  1. Collection of personal data,
  2. Processing of personal data,
  3. Access to personal data,
  4. Updating personal data
  5. Retention of personal data
  6. Data quality,

The 2014 Bill has further includes provisions addressing:

  1. Openness and accountability,
  2. Choice,
  3. Consent,
  4. Exceptions for personal identifiers.

The 2014 Bill has made changes to the provisions addressing:

  1. Provisions relating to sensitive personal data,
  2. Sharing (disclosure of personal data),
  3. Notification of breach of security,
  4. Mandatory processing of data
  5. Security of personal data
  6. Trans border flows of personal data.

The changes that have been made have been mapped out below:

Provisions Relating to Sensitive Personal Data: The 2011Bill and 2014 Bill both require authorization by the Authority for the collection and processing of sensitive personal data. At the same time, both Bills include a list of circumstances under which authorization for the collection and processing of sensitive personal data is not required. On the whole, this list is the same between the 2011 Bill and 2014 Bill, but the 2014 Bill adds the following circumstances on which authorization is not needed for the collection and processing of sensitive personal data:

  1. For purposes related to the insurance policy of the individual if the data relates to the physical or mental health or medical history of the individual and is collected and processed by an insurance company.
  2. Collected or processed by the Government Intelligence agencies in the interest of the sovereignty, integrity, security or the strategic, scientific or economic interest of India.

The 2014 Bill also allows the Authority to specify additional regulations for sensitive personal data, and requires that any additional transaction sought to be performed with the sensitive personal information requires fresh consent to first be obtained. The 2014 Bill carves out another exception for Government agencies, allowing disclosure of sensitive personal data without consent to Government agencies mandated under law for the purposes of verification of identity, or for prevention, detection, investigation including cyber incidents, prosecution, and punishment of offences.

Notification of Breach of Security: The provisions relating to the notification of breach of security in the 2014 Bill differ from the 2011 Bill. Specifically, the 2014 Bill removes the requirement that data controllers must publish information about a data breach in two national news papers. Thus, in the 2014 Bill, data controllers must only inform the data protection authority and affected individuals of the breach.

Notice
: The 2014 Bill changes the structure of the notice mechanism – where in the 2011 Bill, prior to the processing of data, data controllers had to take all reasonable steps to ensure that the data subject was aware of the following:

  1. The documented purposes for which such personal data is being collected
  2. Whether providing of personal data by the data subject is voluntary or mandatory under law or in order to avail of any product or service
  3. The consequences of the failure to provide the personal data
  4. The recipient or category of recipients of the personal data
  5. The name and address of the data controller and all persons who are or will be processing information on behalf of the data controller
  6. If such personal data is intended to be transferred out of the country, details of such transfer.

In contrast the 2014 Bill provides that before personal data is collected, the data controller must give notice of:

  1. What data is being collected and
  2. The legitimate purpose for the collection.

If the purpose for which the data was collected has changed the data controller will then be obligated to provide the data subject with notice of:

  1. The use to which the personal data will be put
  2. Whether or not the personal data will be disclosed to a third party and if so the identity of such person
  3. If the personal data being collected is intended to be transferred outside India  and the reasons for doing so, how the transfer helps in achieving the legitimate purpose and whether the country to which such data is transferred has suitable legislation to provide for adequate protection and privacy of the data.
  4. The security and safeguards established by the data controller in relation to the personal data
  5. The processes available to a data subject to access and correct  his personal data
  6. The recourse open to a data subject, if he has any complaints in respect of collection or processing of the personal data and the procedure relating thereto
  7. The name, address, and contact particulars of the data controller and all persons who will be processing the personal data on behalf of the data controller.

Disclosure of personal data: Though titled as ‘sharing of personal data’ both the 2011 Bill and 2014 Bill require consent for the disclosure of personal information, but list exceptional circumstances on which consent is not needed. In the 2011 bill, the relevant provision permits disclosure of personal data without consent only if (i) the sharing was a part of the documented purpose, (ii) the sharing is for any purpose relating to the exceptions to the right to privacy or (iii) the Data Protection Authority has authorized the sharing.  In contrast, the 2014 Bill permits disclosure of personal data without consent if (i) such disclosure is part of the legitimate purpose (ii) such disclosure is for achieving any of the objectives of section 5 (iii) the Authority has by order authorized such disclosure (iv) the disclosure is required under any law for the time being in force (v) the disclosure is made to the Government Intelligence agencies in the interest of the sovereignty, integrity, security or the strategic, scientific or economic interest of India.  As a safeguard, the 2014 Bill requires that any person to whom  personal information is disclosed, whether a resident or not, must adhere to all provisions of the Act. Furthermore, the disclosure of personal data must be limited to the extent which is necessary to achieve the purpose for which the disclosure is sought and no person can make public any personal data that is in its control.

Transborder flow of information: Though both the 2011 Bill and the 2014 Bill require any country that data is transferred to must have equivalent or stronger data protection standards in place, the 2014 Bill carves out an exception for law enforcement and intelligence agencies and the transfer of any personal data outside the territory of India, in the interest of the sovereignty, integrity, security or the strategic, scientific or economic interest of India.

Mandatory Processing of Data: Both the 2011 Bill and 2014 Bill have provisions that address the mandatory processing of data. These provisions are similar, but the 2014 Bill includes a requirement that data controllers must anonymize personal data that is collected without prior consent from the data subject within a reasonable time frame after collection.

Security of Personal Data: The provision relating to the security of personal information in the 2014 Bill has been changed from the 2011 Bill by expanding the list and type of breaches that must be prevented, but removing requirements that data controllers must ensure all contractual arrangements with data processors specifically ensure that the data is maintained with the same level of  security.

  • Conditions on which provisions do not apply: Both the 2011Bill and 2014 Bill define conditions on which the provisions of updating personal data, access, notification of breach of security, retention of personal data, data quality, consent, choice, notice, and right to privacy  will not apply to personal data.  Though the 2011 Bill and 2014 Bill reflect the same conditions, the 2014 Bill  carves out an exception for Government Intelligence Agencies  – stating that the provisions of  updating personal data, access to data by the data subject, notification about breach of security, retention of personal data, data quality, processing of personal data, consent, choice, notice, collection from an individual will not apply to data collected or processed in the interest of the sovereignty, integrity, security or the strategic, scientific or economic interest of India.
  • Privacy Officers: Unlike the 2011 Bill, the 2014 Bill defines the role of the privacy officer that must be established by every data controller for the purpose of overseeing the security of personal data and implementation of the provisions of the Act.
  • Power of Authority to Exempt: Both the 2011 Bill and 2014 Bill contain provisions that enable the Authority to waive the applicability of specific provisions of the Act. The circumstances on which this can be done are based on the exceptions to the Right to Privacy in both the 2011 and 2014 Bill. To this extent, the 2014 Bill differs slightly from the 2011 Bill, by removing the power of the Authority to exempt for the ‘detection of crime’ and ‘any other legitimate purpose mentioned in this Act’ .
  • The Data Protection Authority: The 2011 Bill and 2014 Bill both establish Data Protection Authorities, but the 2014 Bill further clarifies certain aspects of the functioning of the Authority and expands the functions and the powers of the Authority.  For example, new functions of the Authority include:
  1. Auditing any or all personal data controlled by the data controller to assess whether it is being maintained in accordance with the Act,
  2. Suggesting international instruments relevant to the administration of the Act,
  3. Encouraging industry associations to evolve privacy standards for self regulations, adjudicating on disputes arising between data controllers or between individuals and data controllers.

The 2014 Bill also expands the powers of the Data Protection Authority – importantly giving him the power to receive, investigate complaints about alleged violations of privacy and issue appropriate orders or directions.

At the same time, the 2014 Bill carves out an exception for Government Intelligence Agencies and Law Enforcement agencies – preventing the Authority from conducting investigations, issuing appropriate orders or directions, and adjudicating complaints in respect to actions taken by the Government Intelligences Agencies and Law Enforcement,  if for the objectives of  (a) sovereignty, integrity or security of India; or(b) strategic, scientific or economic interest of India; or(c) preventing incitement to the commission of any offence, or (d) prevention of public disorder, or(e) the investigation of any crime; or (f) protection of rights and freedoms of others; or (g) friendly relations with foreign states; or (h) any other legitimate purpose mentioned in this Act.

This power is instead vested with a court of competent jurisdiction.

  • The National Data Controller Registry: The 2014 Bill removes the National Data Controller Registry and requirements for data controllers to register themselves and oversight of the Registry by the Data Protection Authority.
  • Direct Marketing: Both the 2011 and 2014 Bills contain provisions regulating the use of personal information for direct marketing purposes. Though the provisions are broadly the same, the 2011 Bill envisions that no person will undertake direct marketing unless he/she is registered in the ‘National Data Registry’  and one of the stated purposes is direct marketing. As the 2014 Bill removes the National Data Registry, the 2014 Bill now requires that any person undertaking direct marketing must have on record where he/she has obtained personal data from.
  • Interception of Communications: Though maintaining some of the safeguards defined in the 2011 Bill for interception,  2014 Bill changes  the interception regime envisioned in the 2011 Bill by carving out a wide exception for organizations monitoring the electronic mail of employees,  removing provisions requiring the interception take place only for the minimum period of time required for achieving the purposes, and removing provisions excluding the use of intercepted communications as evidence in a court of law. Similar to the 2011 Bill, the 2014 Bill specifies that the principles of notice, choice and consent, access and correction, and openness will not apply to the interception of communications.
  • Video Recording Equipment in public places: Unlike the 2011 Bill, which addressed only the use of CCTV’s, the 2014 Bill addresses the installation and use of video recording equipment in public places. Though both the 2011 Bill and 2014 Bill both prevent the use of recording equipment and CCTVs for the purpose of identifying an individual, monitoring his personal particulars, or revealing personal, or otherwise adversely affecting his right to privacy – the 2014 Bill requires that the use of recording equipment must be in accordance with procedures, for a legitimate purpose, and proportionate to the objective for which the equipment was installed.

The 2014 Bill makes a broad exception to these safeguards for law enforcement agencies and government intelligence agencies in the interest of the sovereignty, integrity, security or the strategic, scientific, or economic interest of India.

  • Privacy Standards and Self Regulation: The 2014 Bill establishes a specific mechanism of self regulation where industry associations will develop privacy standards and adhere to them.  For this purpose, an industry ombudsman should be appointed. The standards must be in conformity with the National Privacy Principles and the provisions of the Privacy Bill. The developed standards will be submitted to the Authority and the Authority may frame regulations based on the standards. If an industry association has not developed privacy standards, the Authority may frame regulations for a specific sector.
  • Settlement of Disputes and Appellate Tribunal: The 2014 Bill makes significant change to the process for settling disputes from the 2011 Bill. In the 2014 Bill an Alternative Dispute Mechanism is established where disputes between individuals and data controllers are first addressed by the Privacy Officer of each Data Controller or the industry level Ombudsman. If individuals are not satisfied with the decision of the Ombudsman they may take the complaint to the Authority. Individuals can also take the complaint directly to the Authority if they wish.  If an individual is aggrieved with the decision of the Authority, by a privacy officer or ombudsman through the Alternative Dispute Resolution mechanism, or by the adjudicating officer of the Authority, they may approach the Appellate Tribunal. Any order from the Appellate Tribunal can be appealed at a high court.

In the 2011 Bill disputes between the data controller and an individual can be taken directly to the Appellate Tribunal and orders from the Authority can be appealed at the Tribunal. There is not further path for appeal to an order of the tribunal.

  • Offences and Penalties: The 2014 Bill changes the structure of the offences and penalties section by breaking the two into separate sections – one addressing offences and one addressing penalties while the 2011 Bill addressed offences and penalties in the same section.
  • Offences: The 2014 Bill penalizes every offence with imprisonment and a fine and empowers a police officer not below the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police to investigate any offence, limits the courts ability to take cognizance of an offence to only those brought by the Authority, requires that the Court be no lower than a Chief Metropolitan Magistrate or a Chief Judicial Magistrate, and permits courts to compound offences. The 2014 Bill further specifies that any offence that is punishable with three years in prison and above is cognizable, and offences punishable with three years in prison are bailable. . Under the 2014 Bill offences are defined as:
  1. Unauthorized interception of communications
  2. Disclosure of intercepted communications
  3. Undertaking unauthorized Covert Surveillance
  4. Unauthorized use of disclosure of communication data

The offences defined under the Act are reflected in the 2011 Bill, but the time in prison and fine is higher in the 2014 Bill.

Penalties: The 2014 Bill provides a list of penalties including:

  1. Penalty for obtaining personal data on false pretext
  2. Penalty for violation of conditions of license pertaining to maintenance of secrecy and confidentiality by telecommunications service providers
  3. Penalty for disclosure of other personal information
  4. Penalties for contravention of directions of the Authority
  5. Penalties for data theft
  6. Penalties for unauthorised collection, processing, and disclosure of personal data
  7. Penalties for unauthorized use of personal data for direction marketing. These penalties reflect the penalties in the 2011 bill, but prescribe higher fines

Adjudicating Officer: Unlike the 2011 Bill that did not have in place an adjudicating officer, the 2014 Bill specifies that the Chairperson of the Authority will appoint a Member of the Authority not  below the Rank of Director of the Government of India to be an adjudicating officer. The adjudicating officer will have the power to impose a penalty and will have the same powers as vested in a civil court under the Code of Civil Procedure. Every proceeding before the adjudicating officer will be considered a judicial processing. When adjudicating the officer must take into consideration the amount of disproportionate gain or unfair advantage, the amount of loss caused, the respective nature of the default

Civil Remedies and compensation: Both the 2011 and 2014 Bill contain provisions that permit an individual to pursue a civil remedy, but the 2014 Bill limits these instances to – if loss or damage has been suffered or an adverse determination is made about an individual due to negligence on complying with the Act, and provides for the possibility that the contravening parties will have to provide a public notice of the offense.

The 2014 Bill removes provisions specifying that individuals that have suffered loss due to a contravention by the data controller of the Act are entitled to compensation.

Exceptions for intelligence agencies:  Unlike the 2011 Bill, the 2014 Bill includes an exception for Government Intelligence Agencies and Law Enforcement Agencies – stating that the Authority will not have the power to conduct investigations, issue appropriate orders and directions or otherwise adjudicate complaints in respect of action taken by the Government intelligence agencies and Law  Enforcement agencies for achieving any of the objectives that reflect the defined exceptions to privacy.

The Centre for Internet and Society welcomes many of the changes that are reflected in the Privacy Bill 2014, but are cautious about the wide exceptions that have been carved out for law enforcement and intelligence agencies in the Bill.

In 2012, the Report of Group of Expert s on Privacy was developed for the purpose of informing a privacy framework for India. As such the Centre for Internet and Society will be analyzing in upcoming posts the draft Privacy Bill 2014 and the recommendations in the Report of the Group of Experts on Privacy.

The original post was published here.

(c) The Centre for Internet and Society is a non-profit research organization that works on policy issues relating to freedom of expression, privacy, accessibility for persons with disabilities, access to knowledge and IPR reform, and openness (including open government, FOSS, open standards, etc.), and engages in academic research on digital natives and digital humanities.