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Srikrishna Committee suggests amendments in Aadhaar Act for data protection



Data Privacy

New Delhi, July 27 (IANS) The Justice B.N. Srikrishna Committee on data protection in India has suggested amendments to various laws including the Aadhaar Act to provide for imposition of penalties on data fiduciaries and compensations to data principals for violations of the data protection law.

The 213-page report, prepared by a 10-member committee set up last year under the chairmanship of the retired Supreme Court judge, was submitted to Law and Electronics Minister Ravishankar Prasad who said that the government will go through the draft bill and take stakeholder comments before taking Cabinet approval for finalising the legislation.

Justice Srikrishna said data privacy is a burning issue and there are three parts to the triangle. “The citizen’s rights have to be protected, the responsibilities of the states have to be defined but the data protection can’t be at the cost of trade and industry.”

The report assumes significance in the context of controversies over alleged leakage of biometric details of Aadhaar card holders and the ongoing Supreme Court hearing in the case related to data protection.

The report has proposed penalties for violations, criminal proceedings, setting up of a data authority, provision of withdrawal of consent and concept of consent fatigue.

In its recommendationsm, the committee has said the data protection law will set up a Data Protection Authority (DPA), an independent regulatory body responsible for the enforcement and implementation of the law. Broadly, it will perform the functions of monitoring and enforcement, legal affairs, policy and standard setting, research and awareness and enquiry, grievance handling and adjudication.

The draft law has suggested that penalties may be imposed on data fiduciaries and compensations may be awarded for violations of data protection law.

“The penalties imposed would be an amount up to the fixed upper limit or a percentage of the total worldwide turnover of the proceeding financial year, whichever is higher. Offences created under the law should be limited to any intentional or reckless behaviour, or to damage caused with knowledge to the data principals in question.”

The law will have jurisdiction over the processing of personal data if such data has been used, shared, disclosed, collected or otherwise processed in India.

However, in respect of processing by fiduciaries that are not present in India, the law shall apply to those carrying on business in India or other activities such as profiling which could cause privacy harms to data principals in India.

Additionally, personal data collected, used, shared, disclosed or otherwise processed by companies under Indian law will be covered, irrespective of where it is actually processed.

However, the data protection law can empower government to exempt companies which only process the personal data of foreign nationals not present in India.

The law will not have retrospective application and will come into force in structured and phased manner.

The report suggests amendments to the Aadhaar Act from a data protection perspective. Read along with the provisions of the proposed data protection bill, the amendments will deal with enforcement action and individual remedies.

Under the Chapter Processing, the report says the definition of personal data will be based on identifiability. The law will cover processing of personal data by both public and private entities.

Standards for anonymisation and de-identification (including pseudonymisation) may be laid down by the authority.

Sensitive poersonal data will include passwords, financial data, health data, official identifier, sex life, sexual orientation, biometric and genetic data and data that reveals transgender status, inter-sex status, caste, tribe, religious or political beliefs or affiliations of an individual.

The authority will be given the residuary power to notify further categories in accordance with the criteria set by law.

Consent will be a lawful basis for processing of personal data. However, the law will adopt a modified consent framework which will apply a product liability regime to consent, thereby making the data fiduciary liable for harms caused to the data principal.

For consent to be valid it should be free, informed, specific, clear and capable of being withdrawn. For sensitive personal data, consent will have to be explicit.

A data principal below 18 years of age will be considered a child. Data fiduciaries have a general obligation to ensure that processing is undertaken keeping the best interests of the child in mind.

Further, data fiduciaries capable of causing significant harm to children will be identified as guardian data fiduciaries. All data fiduciaries (including guardian data fiduciaries) shall adopt appropriate age verification mechanism and obtain parental consent.

Furthermore, guardian data fiduciaries, specifically, shall be barred from certain practices. Guardian data fiduciaries exclusively offering counselling services or other similar services will not be required to take parental consent.

Under data principal rights, the right to confirmation, access and correction should be included in the data protection law.

Similarly, the right to data portability, subject to limited exceptions, should be included in the law. The right to object to processing; right to object to direct marketing, right to object to decisions based on solely automated processing, and the right to restrict processing need not be provided in the law for the reasons set out in the report.

The right to be forgotten may be adopted, with the Adjudication Wing of the DPA determining its applicability on the basis of the five-point criteria as follows:

(i) the sensitivity of the personal data sought to be restricted;
(ii) the scale of disclosure or degree of accessibility sought to be
(iii) the role of the data principal in public life (whether the data principal
is publicly recognisable or whether they serve in public office);
(iv) the relevance of the personal data to the public (whether the passage
of time or change in circumstances has modified such relevance for
the public); and
(v) the nature of the disclosure and the activities of the data fiduciary
(whether the fiduciary is a credible source or whether the disclosure is
a matter of public record; further, the right should focus on restricting
accessibility and not content creation).

Cross-border data transfers of personal data, other than critical personal data, will be through model contract clauses containing key obligations with the transferor being liable for harms caused to the principal due to any violations committed by the transferee.


Farm bills Modi govt’s ‘death warrant’ for farmers: Rahul Gandhi on Farm Bill

The Parliament on Sunday witnessed a lot of drama and uproar. Calling the farm bills introduced by the government as “black laws”, Congress party hit out at the government and raised the issue of Minimum Support Price (MSP).



Rahul Gandhi

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi slammed the farm bills that were passed in the Upper House of Parliament (Rajya Sabha) on Sunday, saying that the ‘democracy is ashamed’ by the decision.

“The farmer who grows gold forom earth, Modi government’s pride is making that farmer cry tears of blood,” the Congress leader wrote on Twitter in Hindi.

Farmer’s Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020, and the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020, which the government says will help boost the farming sector through private investments, were approved in Rajya Sabha today, inviting a lot of criticism from opposition parties.

“Democracy is ashamed of the way this government issued a death warrant against farmers through these bills in Rajya Sabha,” Rahul Gandhi further wrote on Twitter.

The Parliament on Sunday witnessed a lot of drama and uproar. Calling the farm bills introduced by the government as “black laws”, Congress party hit out at the government and raised the issue of Minimum Support Price (MSP).

“Why the government is running away from providing legal obligation for MSP. Who will take a guarantee of MSP outside ‘Mandi’,” Congress general secretary Randeep Singh Surjewala said.

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No restriction on accessing any website in Jammu and Kashmir: Centre

Union Minister of State for Home G Kishan Reddy said the mobile data services are presently restricted to 2G speed in all but two districts of the Union territory.



Postpaid Mobile in Kashmir

There is no restriction on accessing any website, including social media sites, in Jammu and Kashmir, the Lok Sabha was informed on Sunday.

Union Minister of State for Home G Kishan Reddy said the mobile data services are presently restricted to 2G speed in all but two districts of the Union territory. “There is no restriction on accessing any sites, including the social media sites,” he said in a written reply. Reddy said the internet services are already available in Kashmir on fixed line (without any speed-related restrictions) as well as mobile data services (at 2G speed) since January 24, 2020.

He said restrictions on accessing social media sites were also lifted on March 4, 2020. Further, high speed mobile data services too have been commenced in the districts of Ganderbal (Kashmir Division) and Udhampur (Jammu Division) with effect from August 16, 2020. The minister said fixed line internet connectivity is available without any speed-related restrictions, with Mac-binding.

He said the businesses have had access to internet through fixed line connectivity and internet kiosks opened in large numbers across the Valley without any speed restrictions.

Reddy also informed the Lower House that 2G mobile internet speed is not an impediment in Covid control measures, including dissemination of information to the general public as well as health workers.

Also, he said, e-learning apps and education/e-learning websites of the Government of India, Government of J&K are accessible over 2G internet for downloading e-books and other study material.

“Further, the restriction on high speed mobile internet services has not been an impediment in the administration of justice and the courts have taken special measures to conduct their proceedings during the pandemic by providing video links/URLs to lawyers and the litigants,” the minister said.

“Considering the overall security scenario and in the interest of the sovereignty and integrity of India, the Government of Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir issues orders from time to time regulating telecom and internet services in terms of the applicable rules and the principles laid down and directions contained in the judgment of the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India..,” he added.

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Lok Sabha creates fresh record, burns midnight oil for Public Importance matters

This is the fourth session of the 17th Lok Sabha in a row when the lower House registered a new record by concluding its business in late-night proceedings involving debate on major issues linked to the common people.



Lok Sabha

New Delhi, Sep 21 : The Lok Sabha inked another record in the history of Parliament by hearing ‘Matters of Urgent Public Importance’ during midnight proceedings of the ongoing Monsoon Session when most of the Indians were sleeping. The lower House which began its proceedings at 3 p.m. on Sunday concluded its session at 12.34 a.m. on Monday, spending more than two hours to hear the ‘Matters of Urgent Public Importance’ raised by the parliamentarians.

Several parliamentarians and officers in the Lok Sabha secretariat said it was the first time in the history of Parliament when the Lok Sabha (House of the People) held ‘Matters of Urgent Public Importance’ or ‘Zero Hour’ after the Lower House was constituted for the first time on April 17, 1952, following the first General Elections – held from October 25, 1951, to February 21, 1952, and the First Session of the First Lok Sabha that had commenced on May 13, 1952.

‘Matters of Urgent Public Importance’ gives Members of Parliament (MPs) a vehicle to discuss a matter of current concern without the requirement for a question to be before the Chair.

The Assembly does not make a judgement on the matter by way of resolution.

Under this procedural device, a Member may, with the prior permission of the Speaker, call the attention of a Minister to any matter of urgent public importance and the Minister may make a brief statement thereon.

There shall be no debate on such a statement at the time it is made. After the statement, brief clarifications can be sought from the Minister by the Member who has initiated the Calling Attention and other Members whose names appear in the List of Business are called by the Speaker.

Only those matters which are primarily the concern of the Union Government can be raised through a Calling Attention notice.

The Calling Attention procedure is an Indian innovation that combines asking a question with supplementaries and making brief comments; the government also gets an adequate opportunity to state its case. The Calling Attention matter is not subject to the vote of the House.

Known as ‘Zero Hour’, the matter of public importance started on late Sunday night after the House passed three major Bills — two related to the Union Home Ministry and one of the Finance Ministry — on the recommendation of Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla.

Announcing to start the ‘Zero Hour’ of the Monsoon Session, for the first time in the night, Birla, however, requested Members of Parliament to conclude their matters within one minute. “I will give enough opportunities to every MP during Zero Hour but not enough time,” Birla said before creating the history by running the Zero Hour which began around 10.30 p.m. on Sunday and crossed 12 midnight.

Generally, the ‘Zero Hour’ time immediately follows the Question Hour. It used to start at around 12 noon (hence the name) and members can, with prior notice to the Speaker, raise issues of importance during this time.

Due to Covid-19 precautions, it was decided that the half-an-hour time slot will be fixed for the ‘Zero Hour’ during the Monsoon Session of the Parliament which started on September 14 and is set to conclude on October 1.

Soon after the clock hits 12 O’clock, the Speaker again extended the time of the House for more half-an-hour to give chance to all MPs who got a chance to speak during the ‘Zero Hour’.

Birla again extended the time of the ‘Zero Hour’ at 12.30 a.m. on Monday, saying “the time is extended till the end of all matters to be raised”.

The House was finally adjourned at 12.34 a.m. on Monday. The Lok Sabha earlier has held various late-night proceedings.

On March 12 this year during the Budget Session, the Lok Sabha conducted its business till late night in a marathon sitting that crossed 12 hours while concluding debate on the demands for grants under the control of the Ministry of Railways for 2020-21, skipping lunch as well as dinner breaks.

The controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2019, which provided Indian citizenship to non-Muslim refugees from Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan, was also passed in the Lok Sabha on December 10 last year in the late-night hearing though it was vehemently opposed by the major opposition parties which described it as “anti-Muslim”.

This is the fourth session of the 17th Lok Sabha in a row when the lower House registered a new record by concluding its business in late-night proceedings involving debate on major issues linked to the common people.

The Lok Sabha created an undefeated record On July 25, 1996, when a discussion on demands for grants on Railways began on the day after the lunch and ended on July 26, 1996, at 7.17 a.m.

Ram Vilas Paswan, the senior Bihar-based politician from Lok Janshakti Party and the present Cabinet Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, was the Railway Minister at that time.

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