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Asia Pacific Dashboard Digest | Notes from the Asia-Pacific region, 3 Feb. 2023 Related reading: A dive into workplace privacy law with Zoe Argento




On 26 Jan., India rang in its 74th Republic Day – a day that marks the adoption of the Constitution of India. Celebrated with a lot of pomp and grandeur across the country, the day reinforces our fundamental rights and freedoms guaranteed under the constitution.

Any talk of fundamental rights has us privacy folks focusing on the specific right of privacy. Coincidentally, the Supreme Court of India brought this up during the proceedings of a case involving WhatsApp. In response, the government of India submitted an affidavit to the Supreme Court Tuesday, confirming it will introduce the Digital Personal Data Protection Bill in the second half of the Parliament's budget session starting 13 March. 

In any case, given the law is around the corner with passage expected in July or August, the interest in data privacy has certainly increased. One indication of this was the enthusiasm and spread of the 28 Jan. celebration of International Data Privacy Day. From the Data Security Council of India leading the charge with multiple events and artifacts, to every IAPP Chapter in India celebrating the day via a host of interesting seminars and events, to Arrka releasing the sixth edition of its Annual Privacy Study on mobile apps and websites, it was a packed week indeed.

Meanwhile, India recently took up the G-20 Presidency, throwing a spotlight on general technology policy. Two aspects are of relevance to the privacy context here:

  • Trusted data to enable public digital goods and the national digital infrastructure: While this is well intentioned, concerns raised by critics center around how more and more data is being collected by the government in the absence of a data privacy law in India. Further, if frameworks around this thought are adopted internationally, are we moving into an era of data-driven development at the cost of privacy?
  • Transborder data flows: A contentious, long-debated issue, India’s stance has been toward having more control over its data – whether it is used for its own development or for dealing with issues around cybercrime and national security.

How this pans out during the G-20 presidency would be interesting to observe.

Shortly before I wrote these notes, Indian Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman concluded his presentation of the annual budget in Parliament. Several aspects around technology were brought up, including the National Data Governance Policy to access anonymized data. This again circles back to the discussion around how the to ensure the privacy of individuals in the process, since we do not yet have a data privacy law.

All in all, we live in interesting times indeed!



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