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Current Affairs – 23 November 2021

Personal Data Protection Bill

Indian Express

GS 2: Governance

GS 3: Security

Context:

  • Recently, the Joint Committee of Parliament (JCP) after almost two years of scrutiny gave final set of recommendations regarding the Personal Data Protection Bill.

About:

  • Widening the ambit of the Bill to include non-personal data and data collection by electronic hardware, and treating all social media as social media platform, are among key suggestions.
  • The proposed Data Protection Authority (DPA), it believes, should be a larger umbrella to handle non-personal data as well.
  • Further policy/legal framework on non-personal data in future should be made part of this legislation, and not a separate legislation. Apart from other industrial databases, the non-personal data will also include anonymised personal data under the proposed changes.
  • Apart from the digital/software companies, the JCP is believed to have favoured bringing data collection by electronic hardware (telecom gears, IoT etc) under the ambit of this law itself.
    • The legislation, as introduced, does not have any provision to keep a check on hardware manufacturers that collect data through digital devices.
  • Given this backdrop, the JCP is believed to be in favour of suggesting incorporation of new clauses in the legislation that will allow DPA to frame regulations towards data handling by hardware manufacturers and related entities.
  • This, in a way, will allow DPA (A government authority tasked with protecting individuals’ data and executing this Act through codes of practice, inquiries, audits and more) to create a framework providing for monitoring, testing and certification to ensure integrity of hardware equipment to guard against any seeding that may lead to breach of personal data.
  • It brings all social media intermediaries (governed by IT Rules) tightly under its ambit by redesignating them as social media platforms.
  • Likewise, it is believed to have favoured that all social media platforms (which do not act as intermediaries) be treated as publishers and be held accountable for the content they host.
  • For them, a statutory media regulatory authority may be set up for regulation of content on such platforms.
  • The committee, however, is learnt to have favoured granting exceptions to smaller firms about the principle of privacy by design envisaged in the legislation.
  • For this purpose, the DPA may be vested with some avenue to make regulations to grant exceptions to data fiduciaries (The entity that collects and/or processes a data principal’s data) below a certain threshold with a purpose to not hamper the growth of firms that can be classified under MSMEs.
  • It is believed that the JCP has considered recommending an approximate period of 24 months be provided to data fiduciaries and data processors (The entity that a fiduciary might give the data for processing, a third-party entity) towards transition of their policies, infrastructure and processes for the implementation of the provisions of this law after its notification.
  • During this period, a phased implementation is proposed with set deadlines for instituting DPA, registration of data fiduciaries, adjudicators (Officers in the DPA with the power to call people forward for an inquiry into fiduciaries, assess compliance, and determine penalties on the fiduciary or compensation to the principal) and appellate tribunals etc.
  • The JCP is also believed to have favoured a specific timeline for the data fiduciaries to report data breach with 72 hours being considered a realistic and finite timeframe.
  • The committee, however, was believed to be against informing every odd and sundry data breach to the data principal by the data fiduciary.
  • Instead, it was considering the recommendation that the DPA must first of all take into account the personal data breach and the severity of harm before directing a data fiduciary to inform data breach to individuals.
  • The committee is believed to have favoured a more exhaustive definition of a consent manager and recommended that the definition of harm should include psychological manipulation which impairs autonomy of a person.

Data can be classified into three:

  • Personal data – Name, address, the identity details of a person
  • Sensitive personal data (SPD) – Finances, Health, Caste, Religion, Belief, sexual orientation, etc.
  • Critical personal data – National or Military security information

 

Authoritarianism on Rise

The Hindu

GS 1: Salient features of Indian society; political philosophies like communism, capitalism, socialism etc.- their forms and effect on the society

Context:

  • Global State of Democracy Report, 2021 has been recently released by the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International-IDEA).

Highlights:

  • The number of countries moving towards authoritarianism in 2020 was higher than that of countries going in the other direction, towards democracy.
  • While 20 countries moved in the direction of authoritarianism, seven countries moved towards democracy.
  • The pandemic has prolonged this existing negative trend into a five-year stretch, the longest such period since the start of the third wave of democratisation in the 1970s.
  • Democratically elected Governments, including established democracies, are increasingly adopting authoritarian tactics. This democratic backsliding has often enjoyed significant popular support.
  • The report highlighted the case of Brazil and India as “some of the most worrying examples of backsliding. However, India remained in the category of a mid-level performing democracy as it has since 2000.
  • The United States and three members of the European Union (EU) [Hungary, Poland and Slovenia, which holds the chair of the EU in 2021] have also seen concerning democratic declines
  • In non-democratic regimes, the trend was deepening. The year 2020 was the worst on record, in terms of the number of countries affected by deepening autocratisation. The pandemic has thus had a particularly damaging effect on non-democratic countries, further closing their already reduced civic space.
  • The uneven global distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, as well as anti-vaccine views, undermine the uptake of vaccination programmes and risk prolonging the health crisis and normalising restrictions on basic freedoms. Many democracies had proved to be resilient to the pandemic.
  • Despite pandemic restrictions on campaigning and media space unfairly favouring Governments in some countries, the electoral component of democracy has shown remarkable resilience.
  • Countries around the world learned to hold elections in exceedingly difficult conditions and they rapidly activated special voting arrangements to allow citizens to continue exercising their democratic rights.

About:

  • The International-IDEA, which is an inter-governmental organisation supporting democracy, was chaired by Australia and includes India as a member-state.

Conclusion:

  • The confluence of authoritarianism gains and a setback of democracy suggests that modern authoritarianism is a permanent and increasing threat to liberal democracies.
  • The rewriting of history will become more widespread and greatly complicate societal efforts to confront both past and political abuses.
  • Authoritarian forces are more likely to gain supremacy in countries where the parties that represent liberal democracy not only lose elections but experience a full-blown political collapse.
  • Authoritarian states are likely to intensify efforts to influence the political choices and government policies of the democracies.
  • Authoritarianism is a form of government characterised by strong central powers and limited political freedoms.
  • An authoritarian leadership style is exemplified when a leader dictates policies and procedures and goals to be achieved and directs and controls all activities without any meaningful participation by his subordinates.
  • Such a leader has a vision in mind and must effectively motivate the group to finish the task.

 

First All-India Survey on Domestic Workers

The Hindu

GS 1: Social empowerment

Context:

  • The first-ever All-India Survey on Domestic Workers was flagged off by Labour and Employment Ministry and it would be completed in a year.

About:

  • The survey, being carried out by the Labour Bureau, was aimed at estimating the number of proportion of domestic workers at the national-level and in the States; the proportion of domestic workers who live-in/live-out, engaged in informal employment and migrant/non-migrant; wages of such workers; and other socio-economic factors.
  • The survey would also include details of the number of households with live-in/live-out domestic workers and the average number of workers engaged by various kinds of households.
  • The questionnaire would include details about the size of the household, religion, social group, monthly consumption expenditure and the nature of the dwelling unit.
  • Information about the domestic workers, including their age, social group, migrant status, duration of work and type of remuneration, would be collected as well.
  • The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on wages would also be a part of the survey that would cover 37 States and Union Territories, covering 1.5 lakh households in 742 districts.
  • Domestic workers are believed to be at least 4 million strong, according to a 2017 International Labour Organization study, but there is little official information on their actual number; and little is known about their work conditions and average pay.
  • The absence of such data leaves them out of any formal policy governing the country’s informal workers, who make up a majority of the total workforce. India lacks updated data on economy-wide number of workers in the informal sector, but estimates suggest their numbers to be between 350-400 million.
  • Domestic worker is a person who is employed in any household on a temporary or permanent basis to do the household work. Many resort to domestic work because of decline of employment opportunities in the agriculture and manufacturing sectors.
  • Domestic work as an economic activity is too vast and employs too many to remain unregulated.

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