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Ensuring Digital Confidentiality: A Comprehensive Guide to Data Privacy Laws in India

The term "personal data" refers to any information about an individual that can be used to either directly or indirectly identify that individual. As a result, this information can be linked to a person's physical, psychological, economic, cultural, or other identity in the social world. Since the advent of the internet age, technological advancement has experienced a previously unheard-of and steadfast increase.

A considerable lot of these innovations should be taken care of with genuine information to appropriately work. Hence, there has been an expansion in the need and accordingly, interest for information on the lookout. As a result, businesses and other stakeholders have recently gathered, stored, transferred, shared, and utilized a significant amount of data.

This led to what we today know as large information. This only gets worse with each new user who joins the internet and uses web services in different ways. Despite the fact that the convenience it offers the human race makes the internet age seem like a utopia, we now know that there are also negative aspects to it. The idea of "data privacy" has sparked human interest due to this realization.

The collective need of individuals, organizations, and nations for ensuring privacy and security of personal data has gained momentum as humans realize the numerous shortcomings and security concerns associated with sharing data, particularly when done through an online medium (which can be said to be more dangerous than offline data collection endeavors due to its spontaneity, lack of public awareness, and unregulated nature).

The Indian government's recent decision to ban hundreds of computer and mobile phone applications that it found were collecting, sharing, and using consumer data in a way that could pose a threat to India's citizens and national security is one example of this realization. The Indian government's move can be seen as a practical extension of the Supreme Court's decision in Justice K.S. Puttaswamy v. Union of India, which recognized and confirmed a person's "right to privacy" as a fundamental right guaranteed by Article 21 of the Indian Constitution.

Data privacy laws in India

At present, the Information Technology Act, 2000 (as amended by the Information Technology Amendment Act, 2008) read with the Information Technology Rules are at the forefront of what can be pursued as India's data privacy or security regime as they primarily deal with electronic commerce and cybercrime in India. Therefore, it does not cover offline data transactions.

The 2008 Amendment was significant because it added Section 43A to the Act and tried to fill a protection gap and provide the necessary provisions for the protection of electronically provided sensitive personal information by individuals. The section makes it the responsibility of any corporate body that deals with sensitive personal data or information to protect it. It holds the corporate body obligated to pay harms to the impacted person(s) in instances of carelessness in keeping up with sensible security to safeguard concerned information bringing about improper misfortune or unjust addition to any individual.

As a result, it is a provision that aims to improve the security of personal data. Further, Segments 72 and 72A reinforce this situation by giving "the discipline for any individual who has tied down admittance to referenced information or data in compatibility of any of the powers gave under the IT Act Rules or Guidelines and reveals it to some other individual without the assent of the individual concerned" and "the discipline for divulgence of data in break of legal agreement", separately.

The penalties include substantial fines and up to three years in prison. These provisions demonstrate that the Act has a limited scope because they only apply to businesses that collect automated processing of "sensitive personal data and information" through "computer resource" and allow victims of data breaches to take legal action based on limited provisions.

However, Section 75 of the Act makes its application extraterritorial, making it applicable to "an offense/ contravention committed outside India by any person if the conduct constituting an offense involves a computer/ computer network located in India." This broadens the Act's scope. However, due to restrictions imposed by jurisdictions, the Act's effectiveness at the extraterritorial level cannot be considered high.

As a result, the current data privacy situation in India is evidently endless and limited in scope. By introducing a data privacy law geared toward consumers, the cutting-edge Data Protection Bill, 2021 aims to improve India's position on this front. India is also working on a data localization policy and limiting cross-border data transfers.

In the ongoing period of globalization, it has become a lot simpler than it was ever before to save and move Information. Nonetheless, this has had positive outcomes as well as a few negative ramifications like the scandalous WhatsApp Information spill case. Exploiting data and violating the general public's privacy has become easier. There is no specific law on the subject because it is a recent issue.

The Personal Data Protection Bill of 2019 was put forward in Parliament with the intention of enacting a comprehensive central level law on the subject, but it has not yet been implemented. Information Protection is critical in all circles of life yet generally significantly in the corporate world. We have high hopes for the Indian Data Protection Bill of 2021 because it is still being debated in parliament and significantly outperforms the Personal Data Protection Bill of 2019, which was previously proposed. In addition, it attempts to be one-of-a-kind legislation that is tailored to India's growing need for data privacy and security as one of the world's largest consumer markets.

Written By: Saurabh Dwivedi

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