Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential; citizens charters, transparency & accountability and institutional and other measures.

The Digital Personal Data Protection (DPDP) Act, introduced in August 2023 in India, represents a significant step towards regulating the use of personal data in the digital sphere.

1.Consent-based Approach: The DPDP Act is largely based on the principle of obtaining user consent for the processing of their personal data. This aligns with international best practices in data protection. However, the efficacy of this approach depends on how well-informed users are about their rights and how freely they can give consent.
2.Basic Rights Provision: The Act provides fundamental rights to individuals regarding their personal data, such as access to and erasure of data. These rights empower users to have more control over their personal information, which is crucial in an era of widespread data breaches and privacy concerns.
3.Obligations on Companies: The law imposes certain obligations on companies regarding the handling of personal data. This includes measures for data security, transparency in data processing practices, and accountability mechanisms. While these provisions are necessary for protecting user privacy, their enforcement and practical implementation will be key to their effectiveness.
4.Grievance Redress Mechanism: The establishment of a complaints body for addressing grievances related to data protection is a positive feature. It provides individuals with a channel to seek redressal in case of violations of their rights under the Act. However, the efficiency and accessibility of this mechanism need to be ensured for it to be meaningful.
5.Impact on Journalistic Freedom: One of the critical aspects of the DPDP Act is its potential impact on journalistic freedom. By not providing exemptions for journalistic activities, the Act raises concerns about the ability of journalists to perform their role as watchdogs of democracy. The requirement for obtaining consent before using personal data in journalistic work and the possibility of data erasure requests from subjects could impede investigative journalism and hinder the accountability of public figures.
6.Transparency and Consultation: There are concerns regarding the transparency of the lawmaking process and public consultation mechanisms. The withdrawal of exemptions for journalistic activities in subsequent drafts without clear explanations highlights the need for more transparent and inclusive policy making processes.
7.Government Power: The Act grants significant power to the government, including the authority to call for information from data processors. This raises questions about the potential for government overreach and its implications for freedom of expression and privacy rights.

While the DPDP Act represents a crucial step towards safeguarding personal data in the digital age, its effectiveness will depend on several factors, including its implementation, enforcement, and impact on journalistic freedom. Addressing concerns related to transparency, consultation, and balancing privacy rights with freedom of expression will be essential in ensuring the Act’s success in protecting individual privacy while upholding democratic values.

Source The Hindu

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