If we still have to drive home the importance of data protection or the multifarious losses which has been happening for the lack of data protection law, then we have lost out the case. Think of a minefield with no security forces, intelligence, demining experts and no law to support any form of action, how much time would it take to sort it out, or if it were, ever going to happen. The impact would be still be limited to the people who get caught in the minefield for a variety of reasons. Here we are on the data minefield, laid for all of us in most unimaginable of ways.

Data is the new oil, the best-known asset class, by any calculation. But it is not mandated as an asset class by any law. So, any trade in data is in no way, does not trample any ownership issues, it does exist anyway. A person divested of his most valuable asset is the biggest tragedy of our times. So, the concept of theft or even loss in any manner, does not come into the picture. The IT behemoths and even the lesser IT mortals have created empires on data, provided by us in real time for some freebies and thus have gained unassailable power. The likes of Roman Empire or the later era British Empire.

The Data Empires are the real empires in today’s all immersive digital / cyber world. They make any empire in our recorded history as puny. The IT Behemoths and Government – Military complexes control the world, through their control over data and the capability to make a meaning out it – intelligence – for business, political, military or for the gain of the nation states. We are caught in a permanent crossfire, singing our consent for all software / app / utility / government services and enjoy the fun of being at the receiving end of everything even without even knowing of it. Is providing self-incriminating evidence not against the law?

All of them supposedly give us ease of work, comfort, user experience and hassle free life. At the click of a mouse, it is a bondage for life. Data protection and privacy are two sides of the same coin. Privacy was adjudicated as a fundamental right by a historic nine-member bench in August 2017. Without the law how does the fundamental right gets delivered? The bill was introduced in Dec 2019 and now it is retracted. The Justice Srikrishna Committee deliberated at length, then the government applied its mind and then the bill went to the JPC. After two years of deliberations of the JPC, we are back to square one. Was the bill such that the JPC found gaping holes all through? Five years seems to have gone down the drain, in a field which is changing by the hour, and every citizen is being impacted. For reference, GDPR after it was passed for the EU, gave two years to ensure that it fully implementable by May 2018 by its member states. Easier said than done.

Sanjay Sahay

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