Right to Privacy Bill 2014: Central Government on the Verge of Final Touch

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A hopeful action to be taken by the central Government to ensure the Constitutional Guarantee is on the verge of the final touch. The Right to Privacy Bill, 2014 guaranteeing citizen against the misuse of personal data by government or private agencies is being finalized by the Central Government. The objective of Privacy Bill is to uphold Article 21 of Constitution that states sensitive personal data need not be disclosed by an individual without prior consent to the data subject. This is a constitutional assurance provided for every citizen in India against misuse of personal data.

The Ministry of personnel has the draft bill that is to be discussed in a meeting among stakeholders and various ministries. The observations regarding various aspects of the bill will be subject to discussions in the forthcoming meeting this week. The Centre mainly aims during the discussion to resolve the issues occurred with the intervention of intelligence agencies that allegedly disrupted and misused the private data of individuals.  Since the draft bill emphasis on the ensuring Article 21, government hopes to sort the difference of opinion on the bill in the meeting. The ministry is also scrutinizing the applicability of the bill to be extended only to citizens of India and not to all residents in India.

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The penalty clause of the bill proposes enhancement of penalties of Rs 2 crore against any person or agencies in illegally using the personal data. Any official of telecom service provider is found guilty in misusing the personal data is subject to penalty of Rs 50 lakhs, illegally obtained personal information on false pretext is also subject to penalty of 50 lakhs. Stealth of personal data on the first attempt is subject to 10 lakhs and on repeated act penalty is enhanced to 20 lakhs.

Though the bill is to protect personal data of an individual and ensuring privacy it has a proposed clause to exempt the intelligence and law enforcement agencies from its ambit. The special exemption clause in the bill states exemption of intelligence authorities from the scrutiny of Data Protection Authority. The bill aims at the scrutiny of intelligence agencies only by competent court.

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by Dhanya R.