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No plans to sell govt-owned non-personal data, RS Prasad informs Lok Sabha

There is presently no proposal to sell non-personal data (NPD) that belongs to various government departments, IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad informed the Lok Sabha on December 4 in a written response. He also informed the lower house of the committee of experts that MeitY had formed in September to look into non-personal data, and come up with a related data governance framework.

The same day, the Indian Express reported, that the new Data Protection Bill “mandates companies to give the government access to any non-personal data — anonymised data like traffic patterns or demographic information — which many companies use to fund their business model”. This will reportedly be used by the government to better deliver services and evidence-based policy. Kris Gopalakrishnan, who is heading the committee of experts on non-personal data, had earlier said that such a non-personal data framework would aid in delivering data-driven services. Given that the PDP Bill will now reportedly deal with non-personal data, it is not clear what the new committee will do.

The PDP Bill was approved by the Union Cabinet yesterday, and is expected to be tabled in this Parliamentary session.

Submissions made on PDP Bill will not be made public

NCP MP Supriya Sule had also asked for the submissions made regarding the Personal Data Protection Bill. Prasad refused to give those details, deeming them “confidential” and “not available for public dissemination”. The consultation process for the formulating of the PDP Bill has been opaque. Earlier too, MeitY had refused to make these comments, received from over 600 entities, public. When the ministry sought additional comments in August 2019, no public consultation followed.

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