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Questions of suspended MPs left unanswered: included questions on prisoner tracking, generative AI, and more

Notably, some of the questions left unanswered pertained to tech policy including questions on the personal data of Aadhaar users, the data breach in the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), and the use of tracking devices on prison inmates.

On December 19, 27 questions from the Lok Sabha’s and 44 questions from the Rajya Sabha’s list of questions were deleted. This happened a day after 92 members of the parliament (MPs) were suspended. Similarly, the list of questions for both houses on December 20 also consisted of as many as 89 unanswered questions. Notably, some of the questions left unanswered on both days pertained to tech policy including questions on the personal data of Aadhaar users, the data breach in the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), and the use of tracking devices on prison inmates.

According to the Parliamentary observer Maadhyam, a majority of the unanswered questions were those asked by MPs who had been temporarily suspended. It pointed out that once a question has been admitted for answering, the presence of the MP asking the question in the House is not required for that question to be answered. This is true for both questions that require oral and written answers. And yet questions were left unanswered, which in turn can adversely affect people’s ability to learn about government functioning. 

Important questions that were left unanswered:

Here is the full text of some of the important unanswered questions between December 19 and 20, 2023—

Income Tax notice to Fintech companies 

Addressed to the Minister of Finance:

(a) whether it is a fact that Income Tax Department is probing Indian units of Apple, Google and Amazon over non-payment of taxes to the tune of approximately over ₹ 5000 crore;
(b) if so, the details thereof; and
(c) whether these fintech companies are under lens by the GST Department also for
evading GST, if so, the details thereof?

Personal data of Aadhaar registered users 

Addressed to the Minister of Health and Family Welfare:

(a) whether Government is aware of the fact that a United States-based cyber security firm Resecurity, in a report, claimed that personal data of around 81.5 crore Indians had been leaked to the dark web, which includes names, phone numbers, addresses, Aadhaar and passport details of aadhar registered users, which were available for sale online;
(b) if so, whether Government has instituted any inquiry to ascertain the veracity of the said
report;
(c) if so, the outcome of any inquiry;
(d) if not, the reasons therefor; and
(e) the specific measures Government adopted to protect the personal data of aadhar
registered users?

Medical data breach

Addressed to the Minister of Health and Family Welfare:

(a) whether it is a fact that data with the ICMR of 81.5 crore citizens were sold on the dark web on 31 October, 2023, if so, the details thereof;
(b) whether the breached data was entrusted with Government or with private entities;
(c) whether Government has identified the epicenter of the leakage;
(d) whether Government has taken any steps to address the issue of compromise in privacy, if so, the details thereof; and
(e) if not, the reasons therefor?

Tracking devices on prison inmates

Addressed to the Minister of Home Affairs:

(a) whether the Government has directed the States to use tracking devices on prison inmates released on parole and if so, the details thereof;

(b) whether the Government had also directed to the States to segregate hardened criminals from other
categories of criminals; and
(c) whether it is also true that the Government has also directed to the States to digitise the prison administration and integrate the database with the Interoperable Criminal Justice System and if so, the details thereof?

Harms of Generative Artificial Intelligence (AI):

Addressed to the Minister of Electronics and Information Technology:

(a) whether the Government is aware of the harms of Generative AI and if so, the details thereof;
(b) whether the Government has any plans to regulate Generative AI and other AI-powered tools and if so, the details thereof;
(c) whether the Government has any plans to bring an open source policy for Large LanguageModels to enable scrutiny of these models and if so, the details thereof;
(d) the steps taken by the Government to ensure ethical development and deployment of AI technologies
and consider potential societal impact;
(e) whether there is a framework in place to address privacy concerns associated with AI applications especially those utilizing Generative AI; and

(f) if so, the details thereof including the manner
in which the Government plans to safeguard individual
privacy?

Digital Personal Data Protection Bill

Addressed to the Minister of Electronics and Information Technology:

(a) whether the Government has a plan to work on regulation of data other than what is covered by the Digital Personal Data Protection Bill, 2022 (DPDPB, 2022) but not limited to personal data collected through non-digital means, non-personal data and personal data from which identifiable information has been removed;
(b) if so, the details thereof;
(c) if not, the manner in which the Government plans to regulate data other than what is covered under digital personal data as per Clause 4 of the DPDPB;
(d) the composition of the inter-ministerial committee which has drafted the DPDPB, 2022;
and
(e) the mechanism adopted by the Government to decide which countries a Data Fiduciary may transfer personal data to under Clause 17?

Note: The grammatical mistakes in the questions appeared as is in the original text of the parliamentary documents.


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