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Prasad’s day in Rajya Sabha: No update on when Personal Data Protection Bill will be tabled

As IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad fielded questions on the Pegasus-WhatsApp snooping row in Rajya Sabha on November 28, he also gave an insight into where the government stands on other critical issues:

On data protection law: “It [data protection law] is a work in progress. We shall very soon be bringing it in Parliament. It is a robust law. I want to say that we had the widest consultation possible including from eminent people, from all over the country. When we come to you, you will surely feel that India’s data protection law is of a robust nature; there is going to be a proper balancing of privacy and protection also,” Prasad told the upper house. He, however, did not say when the Bill would be tabled in the Parliament.

On people’s privacy: “The Supreme Court has also stated that a terrorist has no right to privacy; and the Supreme Court in the same judgment has also stated that a corrupt person has no right to privacy,” Prasad said. This echoes the argument made by Attorney General of India K.K. Venugopal and Solicitor General Tushar Mehta on behalf of the Tamil Nadu and Central governments, respectively, in the Facebook transfer petition.

On traceability: “The Government shall be very firm. We don’t want to breach your encryption. But as far as any specific case of serious breach of law and order leading to mayhem and violence is concerned, you will have to share the origin of that message,” he said. MeitY had informed the Supreme Court that the Intermediary Guidelines (Amendment) Rules 2018 will likely be notified by January 15, 2020. These rules ask for traceability.

On data sovereignty: “India will never compromise on its data sovereignty.”

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