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India unexpectedly withdrew a proposed data protection bill this month, which had raised fears among tech giants and privacy rights advocates about government overreach, the New York Times wrote.
The government said it is now working on new legislation, two years after unveiling the previous bill, because it had grown too complicated.
The scrapped bill would have required internet companies such as Meta and Google to obtain specific permission for most uses of an individual’s data, and made it easier to request that such sensitive data be removed.
Tech companies worried that the bill would have forced them to increase their compliance burden and data storage requirements. Others complained that the bill would have made it difficult for global tech giants wanting to expand in India, the world’s second-largest Internet market after China.
But the draft law would have also given the government broad powers over personal data and would have exempted authorities from the bill’s provisions – apparently for national security reasons.
Privacy activists and opposition politicians lamented that the legislation would have provided the government with the ability to store, use and control large amounts of data on its citizens, including fingerprints and iris scans.
Meanwhile, analysts said the withdrawn bill was another attempt by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to rein in tech companies. His government has enacted rules that allow authorities to demand that posts critical of them be hidden from users in India.
Still, some privacy advocates say a measure is needed to safeguard the data of citizens online and hold companies responsible for misusing users’ personal data.