Government Appoints Committee To Study Data Protection Framework for India

The committee, headed by former Supreme Court judge B N Srikrishna, will also suggest a draft data protection bill.

Credit: Nick Youngson, Creative Commons

New Delhi: The Modi government has appointed an expert committee, headed by former Supreme Court judge B N Srikrishna, to “identify key data protection issues” in India and recommend methods to address any potential problems.

The ten-member committee – which includes representatives from the department of telecommunications (DoT), the IT ministry, the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) and the academic community – will not only study the various issues around data protection in India but will also draft a data protection bill that will be taken up for consideration by the Centre.

According to sources, while the committee will be headed by former justice Srikrishna, the ministry of electronics and information technology (Meity) will likely be a driving force. The ministry, which issued the circular, will provide the committee with necessary information in order for it to start its deliberation efforts.

In addition to Srikrishna, members of the committee include DoT secretary Aruna Sundararajan, UIDAI head Ajay Bhushan Pandey, national cybersecurity coordinator Gulshan Rai, MeitY additional secretary Ajay Kumar, IIT Raipur director Prof Rajat Moona, IIM Indore director Rishikesha T Krishnan, DSCI’s Rama Vedasree and Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy Arghya Sengupta.

Breaches, privacy violations

The government’s decision to focus on data protection comes on the back of a wave of privacy and data breaches in India – from corporates such as Reliance Jio, McDonalds and Zomato to government agencies that have leaked the Aadhaar and personal data of over 100 million Indian citizens.

The IT ministry, according to sources, has over the last six months already started working towards putting together data protection legislation.

It has been assisted in this goal by the Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy – a legal think-tank that has assumed a certain amount of prominence amongst bureaucratic and civil society circles after having helped draft the Aadhaar Act of 2016 and the recent Bankruptcy Code.