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India’s new privacy bill may not protect offline data: here’s what to know

A Hindustan Times report quotes an official saying that the provisions of the new privacy bill in India may only cover digital data at first

India’s new data protection bill may not include data “records on paper” and will only include “digital personal data”, HT reported. However, offline data that is subsequently digitised will likely come under the bill’s ambit.  “The ultimate aim will be to digitise all data, but the bill, as it is shaping up, is likely to only apply to digital data initially,” an official told HT. “Think of birth certificates that are old, and so far, only maintained as physical records. Over time, they will be digitised and all forms of personal data will be protected under the bill,” the official explained Why it matters: Until India has a dedicated law on protecting privacy, the offline and online personal information of citizens will continue to be vulnerable. A lot of information in India is stored offline, including health data at hospitals where computers cannot be accessed. Hence, the current speculation on leaving offline data out of the privacy bill can imply leaving these loopholes unresolved.  Background: India’s data protection bill was first tabled in the Parliament in 2019 but was recently withdrawn. This was due to multiple changes in the bill suggested by the Joint Parliamentary Committee it was referred to.  Why protecting offline data is important: Let’s understand this with an example. Imagine there’s a software company selling marketing solutions to businesses. The software company decides to collect data about their clients’ contact information, addresses, business requirements, profits etc on a weekly basis through offline means in the name of…

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I cover privacy, surveillance and tech policy. In my reporting, I try my best to present the most relevant facts, and sometimes add in a pinch of my thoughts.

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