In its report on Personal Data Protection Bill adopted today, the joint parliamentary committee has recommended that the government and its agencies, including police, CBI, ED, RAW, IB and UIDAI, may be exempt from its ambit on national security and public welfare grounds. The exemption could be subject to the condition that they follow the prescribed procedures that are fair and reasonable, the panel noted.

The panel has also recommended that social media giants such as Twitter and Facebook should be treated as “social media platforms”, not intermediaries, and be brought under this proposed law.

As per the report, the panel has maintained the contentious Clause 35 of the proposed act which empowers central government and its law enforcing agencies to process data without the individual’s permission for the purpose of sovereignty, safety of the State and for friendly relations with foreign states, sources told PTI.

However, the committee has recommended that the rules, which are supposed to be framed by the government, for giving exemption to certain agencies “should be fair, reasonable and proportionate”, they said.

Intelligence and law enforcement agencies such as the Enforcement Directorate (ED), Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), Intelligence Bureau (IB) and Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) could be given exemption under the law.

Similarly, organisations such as the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), which processes data for functioning of the government and service of the people, may also also be exempted under this proposed act.

Besides Clause 35 of the proposed law, several arms of the government, whether state or central, such as police, could also be given exemptions in certain cases for their functioning as authorised by various laws, the sources said.

Similarly UIDAI, the Income Tax Department and other departments of the Centre and states may be exempted from this proposed legislation for doing the function of the government and providing services to the people, they said.

The committee in its report also maintained the penalty clause as it was in the original law, while fixing its upper limit, the sources said.

In case of minor delinquencies, penalty on data fiduciary will not exceed five crore or two per cent of total worldwide turnover of its preceeding financial year, whichever is higher. Similarly, in case of major delinquencies, the penalty will be 15 crore or four per cent of the global turnover, they said.

Talking about the report, committee chairman PP Chaudhary said more than 200 amendments and 93 recommendations from committee members have been made. 

“This report is an outcome of extensive deliberations by all members of the committee and all stakeholders. I personally extend my thanks to all members for their cooperation. This law will have a global impact and will set international standards in data protection,” Chaudhary told PTI.

The panel has recommended sufficient transition period of 24 months for the implementation of this proposed legislation after it enacted as law, he said.

The report was delayed by the panel as its former chairperson Meenakshi Lekhi was elevated a minister and Chaudhary was appointed as its new chairperson.

The bill was referred to the JCP for scrutiny before it is taken up by Parliament for consideration and passage.

(With PTI inputs)

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