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New legal framework on cybersecurity on the anvil

Data protection Bill a big step towards that, says Union Minister Chandrasekhar

New legal framework on cybersecurity on the anvil
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New legal framework on cybersecurity on the anvil

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New Delhi: A new legal framework will start taking shape in the country around technology and internet, and the data protection bill is the first step towards that, Minister of State for Electronics and IT Rajeev Chandrasekhar said on Thursday.

Chandrasekhar further said digitalisation of the government and public services is going to be rapid and soon-to-be-unveiled Digital India 2.0 will seek to accelerate on the gains made over the past few years. The government is committed to ensuring that internet and technology remain open, safe, secure and accountable, as 1.2 billion Indians come online in next few years, the minister added.

"A new modern legal framework will start taking shape around technology and internet in the country, the first step of that is the data protection bill that you will see shortly in the next few months. That again poses interesting change in overall operating environment," Chandrasekhar said addressing the valedictory session of Aadhaar 2.0 workshop. He also supported the need to construct trusted common digital ID for every citizen of India. The minister said issues of national security are real issues and so there will be a growing demand and need for trusted ID and ability to validate citizenship, he added.

Earlier this week, a parliamentary panel adopted the report on data protection Bill amid dissent by several opposition MPs. The report is slated to be tabled in Parliament in the ensuing Winter Session, scheduled to start from November 29. After nearly two years of deliberations, the Joint Committee of Parliament on Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019 on Monday adopted the report on the Bill, which provided the government with powers to give exemptions to its probe agencies from the provisions of the Act, a move that has met with resistance from opposition MPs who have filed their dissent notes.

The Bill, seeking to provide for the protection of personal data of individuals and establish a Data Protection Authority (DPA) for the same, was brought in Parliament in 2019 and was referred to the joint committee for further scrutiny on the demand of opposition members. As per the Bill, the central government can exempt its agencies from the provisions of the Act for protecting national interests and for protecting the security of the state, public order, sovereignty and integrity of India - a provision that has triggered concern in certain quarters around privacy.

Meanwhile, the committee is believed to have recommended that all social media platforms, which do not act as intermediaries, should be treated as publishers and be held accountable for the content they host. The panel is also learnt to have recommended that no social media platform should be allowed to operate in India unless the parent company handling the technology, sets up an office in the country. The panel has taken a view that a statutory media regulatory authority, on the lines of Press Council of India, may be set up for the regulation of the contents on all such media platforms irrespective of the platform where their content is published, be it online, print or otherwise.

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