Rajeev Chandrasekhar, Minister of State for Electronics and IT, has on Wednesday called for a “new digital law” to replace the 20-year-old “outdated” Information Technology Act of 2000. Speaking at Nasscom’s annual event India Leadership Forum 2022, Chandrashekhar said, “a new digital law that takes into account aspects like citizens’ right to privacy, is needed to keep pace with the time.”
He also stated that the planned new digital law would serve as a model for future internet jurisprudence.
He was referencing the Data Protection Bill, which has been stuck in limbo for three years. He also mentioned that the bill may take longer to form because the administration does not want to rush it.
PM Modi has advised the ministry to have as much consultation as possible and the bill is being referred to the ministry. Chandrashekhar added, “We will continue this conversation for a little bit longer in my opinion. I don’t want to rush into something and then go back with more amendments. The world needs to get a signal that India’s cyberspace is safe, trusted, open and accountable and most importantly very predictable in terms of what the jurisprudence around it is.”
According to him, India is the world’s most connected market. “Even if you include China, we are still one of the world’s largest markets and one of the most connected democracies. We have much to teach the rest of the world about how to manage digitalisation, boost digital adoption, inclusiveness, and access for everyone, while also ensuring that the internet is secure, trustworthy, open, and responsible,” he stated
The Joint Parliamentary Committee had eventually tabled its long-awaited report on the Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019, in December 2021.
“Any new law should not be rigid and too focused on the present. Rather, it should be flexible and open to wide interpretation, given the evolving nature of the technology space,” Chandrasekhar added, with a word of caution.
He also stated that the new rules should not place an undue burden on startups and that the restrictions should be flexible.
Chandrasekhar also took aim at social media behemoths, calling for a concerted international effort to hold companies like Facebook and Google accountable.
He was quoted by Financial Express as saying, “If we are to bring some sanity and some consistency in the way big tech platforms should be accountable to communities and society at large, countries will have to come together and cooperate. Often this attempt to regulate or even to create some sort of sanity and rules and accountability is spun as a challenge to free speech.”
He also added, “While digitising our democracy is important, keeping our democracy safe and ensuring technology is deployed in a trusted manner and in an accountable manner is equally important.”
India bans 54 more Chinese apps, total reaches to 321
The minister’s statement over data privacy comes on the heels of the Center’s recent decision to ban 54 more Chinese-made apps and games.
On February 14, the government of India issued an order to ban another 54 mobile apps linked to China under the emergency provision envisaged in Section 69(A) of the IT Act. As per reports, the Ministry of Home Affairs had sent a request to the Union Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology to block the apps.
On June 29, 2020, the central government had announced a ban on 59 Chinese apps, including the very popular short-video app TikTok. Later on August 10, another set of 47 apps was banned that were either related to or clones of the previously banned apps. On September 1, 2020, another 118 apps were blocked, followed by 43 apps on November 19, making it a total of 267 apps. Tiktok and PubG were the most popular apps that were banned by the Government of India for their links to China.