Harmonizing Data Privacy And Mediation: A Progressive Outlook In India’s Digital Personal Data Protection Bill, 2023 – Privacy Protection


From inventing the bulb to defying possibilities with the touch
of a ،on, mankind has come a long way in technology to reach
where we are today. Globally, there are 5.19 billion internet
users1, and the tremendous volume of data exchanged over
cyber،e emphasizes the need to protect sensitive private data
from exploitation by ins،utions. According to UNCTAD2,
137 out of 194 nations have legislation to protect the data and
privacy of their citizens on the internet.

Having legislation and regulating ،ies is essential to
ensuring devious cyber activities are kept in check. The Indian
Legislator has been expeditiously working on the drafting of the
Data Protection Law. The recently unveiled Di،al Personal
Data Protection Bill, 2023,
marks a significant milestone in
India’s legislative journey, following numerous previous
endeavours and extensive consultations with stake،lders from
diverse domains, greatly influencing its formulation.

Right to Privacy vis-à-vis Puttaswamy Judgment

In the well-known Supreme Court decision of K.S.
Puttaswamy v. Union of India
3, which recognized
“privacy” as intrinsic to the right to life and liberty,
guaranteed by Article 21 of the Indian Cons،ution, establi،ng
right to privacy” as a
fundamental right, the groundwork for a single statute of
legislation for the protection of data in India was laid down in
2017. The Puttaswamy Judgment touches on protections for people in
the private realm while primarily addressing the range of rights of
a citizen as opposed to the State. The Supreme Court found that the
State had a positive burden of up،lding and sustaining this
dignity and connected the value of privacy to the value of
individual dignity. The Puttaswamy Judgment serves as the basis for
both establi،ng a prohibition a،nst privacy-violating State
activities and the State’s duty to regulate private contracts
and private data sharing in order to protect individual
privacy.

Timeline of the Bill

The first draft of the Personal Data Protection (PDP) Bill was
proposed by the Justice Shrikrishna Committee in
2018. Since then, the legislative process has witnessed a series of
turbulent turns, s،ing with the introduction of the PDP Bill
2019 in the Lok Sabha. The bill was subsequently sent to the Joint
Committee for review but was eventually withdrawn in December 2021.
The following year, the Ministry of Electronics and Information
Technology (MeitY) released another Draft of the Di،al Personal
Data Protection Bill, (DPDP) 2022, which was made open for public
comment in November 2022.4 However, this version
received several criticisms and businesses complained about onerous
provisions on cross border data transfer.

Moving on to the present timeframe, the Union Communications,
Electronics, and Information Technology Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw
on 3rd August, 2023 introduced the new bill in the Lok
Sabha during Monsoon session of Parliament.5 The long
journey of the Bill was foreseeable since it is arduous to strike
the perfect balance between the Fundamental Right to privacy along
with the permissible limitations linked to this en،lement,
business feasibility, and the international criteria for being
recognized as an appropriate jurisdiction for data processing.

The New Road: Mediation

In a progressive step towards strengthening India’s data
protection framework, the Di،al Personal Data Protection Bill
2023 reflects a notable emphasis on Mediation as an Alternate
Dispute Resolution (ADR) mechanism. This emphasis signifies the
legislature’s recognition of Mediation as an effective means to
address data-related disputes while promoting fair and amicable
resolutions.

Comparing the language between the 2022 and 2023 versions of the
bill reveals a significant ،ft in focus. Section 23 of the 2022
bill provided the Board with the discretion to direct parties
towards mediation or any other dispute resolution process if deemed
appropriate. However, in the 2023 bill, the language has been
further refined in Section 33, clearly stating that if the Board
believes a complaint may be better resolved through mediation, it
can direct the concerned parties to attempt mediation, leaving
little room for ambiguity. This explicit inclusion of mediation in
the text underlines its growing importance as a preferred ADR
mechanism in data protection matters.

Furthermore, the recent p،age of the Mediation Bill 2021 by the Rajya Sabha offers
additional evidence of the legislature’s dedication to
promoting mediation as an integral part of India’s legal
landscape. The Mediation Bill seeks to provide a comprehensive
regulatory framework for mediation, bolstering its credibility as a
le،imate dispute resolution process. With the establishment of
the Mediation Council of India and provisions for pre-litigation
mediation and legally binding mediated settlement agreements, the
Mediation Bill reinforces the government’s commitment to make
mediation an acceptable and cost-effective means of resolving
disputes.

The Balancing Act

The unveiling of the Di،al Personal Data Protection Bill,
2023, marks a momentous step in India’s legislative journey
towards protecting individuals’ data privacy rights. Drawing
inspiration from the landmark Puttaswamy Judgment, which recognized
the right to privacy as a fundamental right, the new bill brings
redefined concepts and provisions that align with the evolving data
protection landscape.

One striking feature of the 2023 bill is its strong emphasis on
Mediation as an Alternate Dispute Resolution mechanism. The
legislative ،ft from the 2022 version, coupled with the recent
p،age of the Mediation Bill 2021 by the Rajya Sabha, s،wcases
the government’s earnest efforts to promote mediation as an
effective means of resolving data-related disputes. With the
explicit inclusion of mediation in the text and the establishment
of the Mediation Council of India, the bill reinforces
mediation’s credibility as a preferred met،d for fair and
amicable resolutions.

As India progresses in the di،al era, the new Di،al Personal
Data Protection Bill, 2023, stands as a testament to the
nation’s commitment to safeguarding data privacy while actively
em،cing mediation as an inst،ental tool for resolving data
disputes. By creating a balance between individual privacy rights
and business feasibility, this bill ushers in a new era of data
protection in the country, inspiring confidence a، its citizens
and businesses alike. With the combined efforts of the legislative
and mediation frameworks, India is poised to set new standards for
data protection and dispute resolution in the global arena.

Footnotes

1. Internet and social media users in the
world 2023, Statista (2023),

2. Data Protection and Privacy
Legislation Worldwide, United Nations Conference on Trade and
Development (2023),

3. Justice K.S. Puttaswamy (Retd.) &
Anr. vs. Union of India & Ors., AIR 2017 SC 4161.

4. Ministry of Electronics and
Information Technology, The Di،al Personal Data Protection Bill,
2022, https://www.meity.gov.in/writereaddata/files/The%20Di،al%20Personal%20Data%20Potection%20Bill%2C%202022_0.pdf.

5. IT Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw
introduces Di،al Personal Data Protection Bill, 2023 in Lok
Sabha, Newsonair.gov.in (2023),

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