Government never leaves any job incomplete. I mean to say that whatever Government lays its hands upon, it doesn’t finish off the job but the whole subject, be it judiciary, media or our economy. If you would have followed the news, you’ll realize that along with CAA, Government has also introduced another controversial bill, Personal Data Protection Bill. The bill was absolutely essential for our country but the bill brought by the central Government is more of a danger to our privacy than protection. In the previous Deshbhakt episode, we told you how our government hid or discarded its own data; but apparently Government is not so protective about our data. Before that, we also told you 10 hard facts about CAA that no one is talking about. CAA might have several problems but it proved to be having three-fold benefits: One, nobody is talking about Government’s worst performance in maintaining economic growth; Secondly, people are divided among themselves, questioning the Government has become against the nation, it appears that Constitution will also become anti-national someday. And finally, Government could easily introduce this controversial bill in the hustle created by CAA. This Government and its bill seems to be competing with Rakhi Sawant in creating controversies. “Please don’t fight among yourselves.” In this episode of the Deshbhakt, we’ll talk about what is so secretive and controversial about this bill that BJP has itself shelved it and didn’t push it in the Rajya Sabha. India is home to more than 500 million mobile phone users. All such mobile phone users are also mostly there on social media applications such as Whatsapp and Tiktok. Whatsapp is perhaps the most used mobile phone application in India. This makes it absolutely necessary for India to draft a national policy for the protection of its users’ privacy. In 2018, a committee was set up under the supervision of Justice Srikrishna to prepare the first draft of such national policy. The result was unexpectedly different from it though. In fact, Justice Srikrishna himself has said the bill is not in line with his committees’ draft. According to him, this bill can turn India into ‘Orwellian State’, that is a disastrous fascist state. One can imagine the doubts raised over this bill by the fact that the bill which was supposed to protect our data will make it much easier for the Government to access it. Justice Srikrishna has also said that the Government has discarded all the safeguards for the user privacy provided there in the first draft. The Government now can access anybody’s data anytime without their consent or prior notification for the purpose of national security. In his tweets, the IT standing committee’s head, Shashi Tharoor has informed that his committee which was to discuss the Data Protection Bill couldn’t meet on the scheduled date. Mr.Tharoor should realize that a Government that brings demonetisation, changes Kashmir’s status, imposes GST without anybody knowing about it, would it ever let opposition discuss its plans? To avoid any conflict, speaker Om Birla ensured that no other standing committee has met as scheduled, though this was not the case. So what is so secretive about this bill? Why did Om Birla have to lie? What is the truth behind this bill? Irrespective of whether CAA is anti-muslim or anti-constitution, Data Protection Bill is certainly anti-citizens and pro-fascism. There is no doubt that our country needs a sincere and well-drafted Data protection policy. So when this bill was being framed, we had a lot of expectations from it. The bill majorly divides user data in three categories,: personal, sensitive personal and critical personal. Personal data refers to basic information like name, address, age, personality traits or features of the identity of a natural person. Sensitive personal data as it sounds consists of sensitive information such as bio-metrics, financial data, caste, religious or political beliefs etc. And finally, critical data which is not yet defined by the government, same as rules and regulation of NRC and NPR. Government treats and introduces its data like a high school kid treats his viva- never prepared, always confused. Now, the question arises on as to how this data can be processed. Whatever data and information we give to a mobile application are stored in data fiduciary. A data fiduciary is an entity that decides the means and purpose of processing personal data. Other mobile applications may then access this data and process it to mistreat the user’s personal information for its benefit. What this bill does well is to impose rules and regulations on how this data will be treated and processed. This bill provides certain rights to the user such as the right to obtain confirmation from the fiduciary on how one’s data is being used and provide consent to that. It is a good thing that this bill gives importance to the user’s consent before processing his data. User can analyse and understand the purpose of the processing of his personal data and then decide whether he wants to continue and can also discontinue when it is no more necessary. These rules are not the same though when it comes to government agencies. The bill exempts government agencies from any such rules and regulations and empowers them to bypass all these in the interest of the sovereignty of the state. This Government passes bill against our will, imposes restrictions over us, all in the name of national security. This time, for the purpose of national security, legal procedures, medical emergency or for the benefit of the individual can access our data without our consent or knowledge. Although, such emergencies do not exist for these Government organisations and thus no one can even access government data. Basically, Government’s data is the only protected data now and our privacy is a distant dream. All this happens right after the Pegasus incident wherein 121 Indians were spied on and their privacy was breached. When WhatsApp revealed that it informed the Indian Government about such spyware previously, Government excused itself saying WhatsApp only mentioned some technical jargon. Definitely, this was solely WhatsApp’s fault that it talked in jargon about technological subject. See, when it comes to economy, don’t go into maths; when it is about education, not art and science but astrology should be concerned; and when it is a matter of technology, don’t mention any jargon. WhatsApp should have simply said that this spyware can be use to spy on people, Government could have used it for its benefit instead. This bill also talks about setting up a six-member Data Protection Authority of India. This Authority will have powers to frame the rules and regulations for processing of user data and will also specify “critical” personal data. These six-members of the Authority will be appointed by the Central Government itself. This makes it appear even more dubious about its independence. DPAI will hold the authority over your data and Government will indirectly have the authority over DPAI, and your data will remain as unprotected as it was. Anyways, there are more issues with this bill such as the confusion in its clauses which seems to have become a trait of any BJP’s bill. Like every other bill by BJP, this one also has clauses which seems to be open for interpretation. This bill also introduces “social media intermediaries” without any clear-cut definitions of its role and powers. Many cyber experts have raised questions over this bill, majorly on the exceptions provided to the national agencies to bypass any other clause of this bill. This one clause contradicts the whole purpose and rights provided by Section 35 of the same bill. It would be crucial to see whether user would ever find out that certain Government agencies are accessing his data against his consent or knowledge. After demonetisation, GST, CAA, one can wonder if there was any more disasters left to see but then came this Data Protection Bill. Now, opposition has accused this bill of violating right to privacy. Well, privacy and opposition are both not so well respected in our country. When Congress can’t protect opposition, it is better to not expect the opposition to protect our right to privacy. For now, you can only stay aware of what you’re sharing on the web, where and what is it being used for and how can you protect it. Because if you are found sharing views, opinions or news against the Government, then you never know when and how Government will get back to you. We intend not to take so much of your time but this Government keeps on introducing ambiguous and controversial bills that we believe you should be aware about. We thank our Patreons who support us and enable us to take on ventures such as the latest one wherein we took 100 kids to watch the movie, ‘Chhapaak’. Our merchandise is available at ‘Kadak Merch’. You can also support us on Patreon and become our ultimate Deshbhakts. 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