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Digital Personal Data Protection Act, 2023 UPSC NOTE

 Digital Personal Data Protection Act, 2023

  • The Digital Personal Data Protection Act, 2023 (also known as DPDP Act or DPDPA-2023) is an act of the Parliament of India to provide for the processing of digital personal data in a manner that recognises both the right of individuals to protect their personal data and the need to process such personal data for lawful purposes and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto

  • The government is in the process of framing rules and regulations to operationalise the law 

Digital Personal Data Protection Act, 2023

Challenges for Journalists

  • Typically, data protection laws exempt journalistic activities from privacy obligations such as notifying users and taking their consent before using their personal data

  • Three previous drafts of the DPDP Act had exemptions for journalistic activities, but the final law withdrew such an exemption

  • If a journalist writing about a Member of Parliament (MP) and his performance. 

  • For the story, they use information from their lives such as 

    • the meetings they held, where, and with whom, the towns, villages, and cities they travelled to. 

Challenges for Journalists

  • How often did they use a private jet or a chartered plane? 

  • What about their financial background and also the investments made by their close family members? 

  • Most of this information is not available in the public domain and needs a lot of research. 

  • All this information about an MP is their ‘personal data’, which is data protected under the DPDP Act. 

  • Consequently, any journalist who wishes to use this data will have to get their consent before publishing the story. 

Challenges for Journalists

  • Even after publication, the MP can exercise their right to erasure and request journalists to delete such stories

  • Further, the DPDP Act empowers the government to call for information from any data processor in India. 

  • Depending on how this provision is interpreted and applied, this may impact the confidentiality that journalists must maintain for their sources and research documents. 

  • Taken together, this need for journalists to get consent before publishing their story, the potential for the subject to rely on the right to erasure to have the story deleted, and the power of the government to call for information would likely impede a journalist’s ability to discharge their role as the fourth estate — of holding the state accountable.

  • Removal of the clause for journalistic exemption points to the need for adopting a more robust and transparent public consultation process around proposed laws

  • One of the primary ways to get feedback on a law is to institute an ‘open and transparent’ public consultation model. 

  • Although the Indian government released three separate drafts of the data protection law for public consultation, none of the comments received on the drafts has ever been released in the public domain. 

  • This impedes the ability of citizens to understand what different stakeholders were saying and who was finally heard in the final formulation of the law. 

  • The government has also conducted invite-only town halls to gather feedback on drafts of the DPDP Act.

  • The withdrawal of exemptions for journalistic activities was not discussed in such town halls. 

  • And, no clarification was provided by the government for its withdrawal. 

  • These consultations and town halls are often not conducive to enable open debate and deliberation on the proposed law and its provisions.

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