New Delhi, Dec 16 (IANS): Over 70 eminent citizens, including former judges, IAS, and IFS officers, have written to Members of Parliament to express their concern regarding the proposed Digital Personal Data Protection Bill (DPDPB), 2022 and the "undemocratic manner" in which public consultation on the bill has been invited, in violation of procedural requirements as per the Pre- Legislative Consultative Policy (PLCP), 2014.
On November 18, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) published the draft bill and explanatory note on their website along with a notice inviting feedback on the bill from the public within 30 days.
The citizens, through their letter, demanded the deadline be extended to December 17, on the MyGov website in English.
"MeitY is currently accepting only chapter-wise feedback on the online portal. The process for submission of feedback must be made easy and accessible to all citizens, including provisions for offline submission," they demanded.
"There should be no amendments made to Section 8 (i) (j) of the RTI Act. The RTI law is a critical legislation that empowers ordinary citizens to demand information and maintain accountability and transparency in government function. Any attempt to amend this critical section will lead to the dismantling of the RTI structure and a reversal of the transparency and accountability that it introduced in governance. The right to information and the right to privacy of all Indian citizens must be protected," the letter stated.
"The Digital Personal Data Protection Bill (DPDPB) is a legislation that will impact all citizens of India, and any consultative process must remain transparent, open and inclusive and in line with the Pre-Legislative Consultation Policy, 2014," it added.
The Data Protection Board is the principal authority that has been set up to determine non-compliance with the provisions of the Act and for adjudicating compliance and redressing grievances.
"Section 19 of the DPDPB, 2022 confers discretionary powers to the Central government which is responsible for determining the selection and composition, terms and conditions, and removal of the Chairperson of the Data Protection Board. The lack of independence of the Data Protection Board is extremely worrying and it is imperative that such a board function without the interference of the Central government to enable the protection of the interest of citizens, specifically qua violations of the DPDPB carried out by the Central government," the letter read.
"Additionally, the draft Bill stipulates that the functions of this Board will be digital in design, making the complaints and redress process exclusionary," it stated.