The Union Cabinet has approved the Personal Data Protection Bill for introduction in the current session of Parliament, Minister for Information & Broadcasting Prakash Javadekar announced in a press conference today. The decision was taken at the Union Cabinet meeting this morning, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Javadekar said “data protection is a global issue, and the bill looks at how India’s and people’s interests will be protected”. The Bill can be introduced in either house of the Parliament in this Winter Session, which is scheduled to conclude on December 13.

The draft Personal Data Protection Bill, 2018, was released by the Justice Srikrishna Committee under MeitY in July 2018 for public consultation, after nine months of deliberation and consultation. The draft bill is the India’s first step towards a privacy framework, and sets a framework for the governance of personal data. It prescribes conditions for how organisations should receive, handle, and process individuals’ personal data in India. The consultation process for the Bill has been opaque and ineffective as MeitY refused to make the comments submitted to the Bill public, and refused to disclose the information under RTI Act as well, stating that the submissions were “confidential” and “not available for public dissemination” without the consent of the submitting entity.

In the meanwhile, the Indian government has increasingly pushed the narrative of data as an economic asset, ‘national resource’, and a public good. This precipitated MeitY’s constituting a Committee to deliberate on and formulate a data governance framework for Non-Personal Data (NPD).