Asia St: India’s First Data Privacy Law Confronts Further Delay

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India’s First Data Privacy Law Confronts Further Delay

August 6, 2021

Prime Minister Narendra Modi (Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons).

The BGA India Team, led by Managing Director Ratan Shrivastava, wrote an update to clients on the delay confronting India’s first data privacy law. The update examined the context for the development, its significance as well as implications for businesses.

Context

The Joint Parliamentary Committee has been given another extension to submit its report on India’s first data privacy law, the Personal Data Protection Bill. It is now delayed until the first week of the winter session of Parliament, which usually begins around mid-November.

This is the fifth extension given to the committee since it was first tasked with reviewing the bill. This was necessary because its previous chairperson, Meenakshi Lekhi, and member Ashwini Vaishnaw have joined Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Cabinet as ministers.

Significance

The bill’s delay is taking place within a wider political context. The bill has reportedly seen 89 amendments while retaining the provisions of data localization and non-personal data. The committee, under the chairmanship of Meenakshi Lekhi, held 66 meetings with social media companies and government representatives over the course of last year and early this year to consider certain provisions.

The delay also puts the spotlight on the committee’s new composition. P.P. Chaudhary has been appointed as the new chairperson, and he previously served as minister of state in two portfolios: law and justice and electronics and information technology. There are seven vacancies on the committee that have yet to be filled.

Implications

For companies that may be impacted by the data legislation, the latest extension signals a further delay in the bill becoming a law. The reconstituted committee is expected to further refine the bill before it is sent to Parliament during its winter session. 

Despite the delays, there remains a recognition within the government of India of the need to quickly finalize a law that will safeguard Indian user data. This is particularly the case given issues such as the recent controversy surrounding the alleged use of Pegasus software, data breaches, cybercrime and concerns about the privacy policies of social media firms such as WhatsApp.

BGA will continue to keep you updated on developments in India as they occur. If you have any questions or comments, please contact BGA India Managing Director Ratan Shrivastava at ratan@bowergroupasia.com.