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Privacy bill won’t be completed by end of year

By MRIDULA RAMADUGU, 10 SEPTEMBER 2015

 

Completion of the Privacy (Protection) Bill by the Centre for Internet and Society (CIS) will extend past its Dec. 2015 deadline, officials recently said.

The government’s Right to Privacy Bill, which addresses the public’s privacy concerns, also is currently underway.

The CIS is working on the Surveillance and Freedom: Global Understandings and Rights Development (SAFEGUARD) project.

This project is an addition to the Privacy (Protection) Bill 2013 drafted by the CIS. This bill is being drafted based on public and stakeholder interest to protect and govern privacy with various regulations.

This bill aims at data protection, interception, surveillance, establishing the powers and functions of the Privacy Commissioner, according to CIS.

Also it lays out offenses and penalties for violation of the Bill.

The Indian judiciary is letting the right to privacy evolve case by case. But the right is fundamental for the public and people need to know where their personal data is being used, said CIS officials.

The public data is often used across international borders without consent, CIS officials said. This is something that needs to be looked into and the bill aims at resolving these conflicts and protects the privacy of the public.

“For the latest version of the bill, we are collecting comments from public and stakeholders to submit the bill to Department of Personnel and Training as a citizens’ version,” said Sunil Abraham, Executive Director of the CIS.

The SAFEGUARD project is an addition to the bill and is being implemented with respect to right to privacy in developing countries through research and engagement in national, regional and international policies, according to the CIS. This aims at analysing privacy issues, policy limitations, promote and protect the basic right to privacy and its issues.

The project is an important addition to the bill as it looks into the right to privacy in India, said Pranesh Prakash, policy director at CIS. It establishes more guidelines for the privacy bill.

The project is independent from the actual wording of any law, Pranesh added. It links personal liberties, surveillance and obstacles to privacy. The CIS privacy project looks at various sections of law like consumer, banking, telecommunications, information technology, copyright enforcement, media law, sexual minorities, health, finance and e-governance.

Also, the CIS identity project, funded by the Ford Foundation, looks at the history of privacy in India and projects like Aadhaar.

“The bill will be adopted by the National Data Protection Authority and others,” Sunil said. “The public through the privacy commissioner can safeguard their rights with this project.”

The Privacy Commissioner is an office that gives powers to the Information Commission, such as investigation and jurisdiction, and to handle complaints and other disputes regarding privacy. The commissioner acts as a regulatory body rather than a court, Pranesh said.

The commission will also have legal power to take up an issue or crisis situation without any complaint and investigate it, Pranesh added.

 

 
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