India’s Fresh Data Protection Act: Shielding Personal Info, Revolutionizing Digital Terrain

by | Oct 10, 2023

India is about to undergo a digital revolution with the upcoming implementation of the Digital Personal Data Protection Act, 2023 (DPDP Act). This groundbreaking law is designed to protect the personal information of Indian citizens and enforce strict compliance standards for organizations, thereby revolutionizing India’s digital landscape.

The DPDP Act introduces the concept of data fiduciaries and significant data fiduciaries. Significant data fiduciaries have stricter compliance requirements, including the responsibility to provide accurate information and ensure proper notice and consent procedures.

To comply with the DPDP Act, organizations must appoint a Data Protection Officer (DPO) to address individuals’ inquiries about their data. Clear and transparent notice must also be provided when seeking consent, in both English and the 22 languages recognized by the Indian Constitution.

One notable change brought about by the DPDP Act is the removal of previous data localization provisions. This aligns India with international standards for cross-border data transfers, satisfying multinational businesses. However, certain sectors, like payments and insurance, still face restrictions on transferring personal data.

The DPDP Act focuses on the rights of data principals, granting them access to information, the ability to correct errors, the right to be forgotten, withdrawal of consent, and a mechanism for addressing grievances. It also requires reporting data breaches to affected individuals and authorities, ensuring transparency and accountability in data processing.

Non-compliance with the DPDP Act can result in significant financial penalties, ranging from INR 5 Crores to INR 250 Crores. These penalties are in addition to existing reporting requirements under India’s Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) rules.

The DPDP Act applies to both Indian and foreign entities processing personal data for Indian data principals, without differentiating between personal data and sensitive personal data. However, personal data used for personal or domestic purposes, as well as publicly accessible data, are exempt from the act.

Organizations must take several steps to smoothly transition to the new data protection framework, including identifying the personal data being collected, determining the purposes of processing, and assessing the involvement of third-party processors. Understanding the flow of personal data and processes related to Indian personal data is crucial.

Organizations must also review and update their data privacy programs to align with the provisions of the DPDP Act. This may require addressing any gaps or inconsistencies and implementing effective notice and consent mechanisms for data principals.

Although a grace period for compliance is expected, it could be as short as six months. Therefore, businesses must act quickly to meet the requirements and avoid potential penalties.

The DPDP Act represents a significant milestone in India’s data protection landscape. By introducing comprehensive regulations, it aims to enhance privacy and security while promoting responsible data processing practices.

Further guidance on compliance measures and clarification of the provisions of the DPDP Act is expected through subordinate legislation. Staying informed about these developments and adjusting data handling practices accordingly is crucial for businesses.

As India embraces the digital age, the DPDP Act serves as a vital safeguard for personal data. By establishing strong compliance standards, it aims to foster trust and transparency in the digital ecosystem, ensuring the protection of citizens’ privacy rights.