Editorials/Opinions Analysis For UPSC 18 August 2023
- Updates to the Registration of Births and Deaths Act: in Detail
- Indian Data Protection: Protecting Privacy in the Digital Age
Updates to the Registration of Births and Deaths Act: in Detail
The Registration of Births and Deaths (RBD) Act of 1969, which mandates the mandatory registration of births and deaths under a single legislation throughout the country, is a cornerstone of India’s legal system. Throughout its execution, operational lessons have shown how urgently changes are required to address new difficulties and modernise administrative procedures. The Registration of Births and Deaths (Amendment) Bill, 2023 has gloriously made its way through the revered chambers of Parliament and won the President of India’s unwavering approval in response to these pressing requests. This pivotal event serves as a compelling reminder of the dynamic nature of legislative evolution as well as of India’s unwavering commitment to adjusting its laws to meet modern needs.
GS Paper 2 – Government Policies and interventions
The Registration of Births and Deaths (revision) Bill, 2023, and its recent revision to the RBD Act should be evaluated for its applicability. Examine the justification for creating a national database that is centrally located as well as the function of state-level databases. Examine potential barriers to getting accurate cause of death records and make recommendations for solutions. (250 words)
Key Goal: Building a Database
A crucial and forward-thinking goal of the proposed modifications is the creation of a strong national and state-level database of recorded births and deaths. This crucial objective is simply stated in the “Statement of Objects and Reasons,” which is delicately woven within the Amendment Bill. It emphasises the necessity of such a database for efficiently updating and synchronising other important national databases. The desired result is a coordinated and effective delivery of public services and social benefits, which will inspire the administrative apparatus to better and more effortlessly serve citizens.
Understanding the Need for Change
The RBD Act, 1969, amendment proposal is based on a practical and wise understanding of its functional limits and the urgent need for improvements. This understanding is evidently present in the Registration of Births and Deaths (Amendment) Bill, 2023, which has successfully navigated the complex legislative process, participated in arduous parliamentary debate, and received presidential endorsement. The government’s aggressive response to the constantly changing societal dynamics and the crucial administrative infrastructure is exemplified by this diligent legislative endeavour.
Mandatory Database Development: Redefining the Administrative Environment
The mandatory and thorough establishment of databases at the national and state levels is a fundamental and transformational aspect of the Amendment Bill. The Registrar General of India is directly responsible for keeping a sizable national-level database of births and deaths. The crucial task of creating and maintaining state-level databases, delicately woven in accordance with the exacting guidelines meticulously spelled out by the Registrar General, is simultaneously put upon the Chief Registrars of Births and Deaths in each state. The thorough and smooth updating of a variety of important national databases, including the National Population Register, Aadhaar, electoral rolls, ration cards, and passports, depends on these databases.
Unaddressed Gap: Data on Deceased Persons
While the Amendment Bill places a strong emphasis on the precise collecting of parents’ Aadhaar numbers during the birth registration process, there is a glaring and perceptible lacuna regarding the gathering of deceased people’s Aadhaar numbers. The complex task of swiftly removing the names of deceased people from various databases is complicated by this crucial information gap. This gap jeopardises the fundamental tenet of the main goal of establishing an efficient and open system for delivering public services.
Databases: A Deliberative Discourse on Central vs. State
The argument about whether central and state-level databases for births and deaths are necessary is still valid today and is representative of a larger deliberative conversation. Fundamental doubts about the necessity and usefulness of a centralised database are raised because the primary mantle of registration is given to the revered precincts of State governments and the Registrar General of India deftly assumes the mantle of a coordinator and unifier. A creative and dynamic approach envisions the smooth and real-time transmission of data from relevant national-level databases to state-level databases, potentially avoiding the need for a separate national-level repository.
Legislative Dynamics and Information Sharing
A wise and calibrated legal recalibration is required to effectively facilitate the sharing of birth and death data across diverse databases. While the RBD Act provides an enabling mechanism for the unrestricted sharing of data, it also raises concerns about the unintentional erosion of Parliament’s role’s sacred purity. A fundamental issue that necessitates careful consideration during the general amendment process is finding an appropriate and delicate balance between promoting effective data exchange and robustly maintaining the authoritative and crucial function of Parliament.
Cause of Death Certificate Issues
The recently proposed modifications categorically require the mandatory inclusion of cause of death certificates for people who pass from this world inside the boundaries of medical institutions. However, this requirement’s seeming simplicity leads to a complicated web of difficulties and complexity. These difficulties include the incompatibility issues that are ingrained in diagnoses provided by non-allopathic medical practitioners, the complexity that results when deaths occur outside the enclosed confines of formal medical facilities, and the inherent uncertainty in the field of accurate diagnoses made prior to death.
Certificates of Birth and Death as the Only Proof
The Amendment Bill’s resonance and resonance emphasise and magnify the indispensable function of birth certificates as the main source of proof pertaining to the time and place of one’s birth. This significant position encompasses a broad range of objectives, from streamlining school admissions to smoothing the legal arcs of passport issuing and the awarding of the Aadhaar number. But rather than modifying the Act directly, a strategic recalibration of relevant provisions could be used to effectively and pragmatically realise this goal. The deliberate choice to remove birth certificate requirements for passport applications in the watershed year of 2016 is a vivid illustration of this adaptable strategy.
Taking Care of Missing Persons in Disasters
The tragic accounts of natural disasters or unforeseeable events reveal a recurring tapestry of people who perished in the tumult. Following these horrific occurrences, a perplexing situation arises where people are still missing and search efforts gradually wind down. However, the families of these missing people are still forced to endure an endless wait period of seven years before they can obtain a document signifying a “presumed death.” A dedicated Act provision for quickly registering a “presumed death” based on plausible assumptions is envisioned as a humanitarian and practical answer. This wise clause might shorten the waiting period, providing some measure of comfort to bereaved families caught in a web of ambiguity.
India’s proactive and forward-looking approach to the complex tapestry of modernising administrative processes is exemplified by the legislative journey followed to alter the RBD Act, 1969. The suggested changes deftly address the intricate web of difficulties and complexities that characterise the current time period while unwaveringly respecting the fundamental goals of the Act. India’s birth and death registration system moves relentlessly towards a future characterised by increased seamlessness, ingenuity, and adaptability as this deep transition gradually takes place. A real example of the ongoing evolution of a country’s legal system, the Registration of Births and Deaths Act, 1969, serves as a symbol of India’s unwavering dedication to embracing modern demands and aspirations.
Indian Data Protection: Protecting Privacy in the Digital Age
India has entered a new digital era thanks to the Digital Personal Data Protection Act, 2023, also referred to as the “Data Act.”
GS Paper 3- National Security- Data Protection
What worries have critics voiced regarding the Digital Personal Data Protection Act, 2023’s potential effects on citizens’ rights and government access to data? How does India’s approach to data privacy change as a result? (150 words)
Evolution of the Data Protection Regime
The Data Act’s roots can be found in the government’s ardent desire of complete control over its people. The conviction that technology holds the key to changing democracy’s core foundations is the source of this unrelenting search for supremacy. In an address given in Silicon Valley in September 2015, Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed unwavering optimism in the ability of technology to improve society, imagining a time when technological advances would heal social rifts.
Why the Digital Personal Data Protection Act of 2023 is Required
The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology has taken action in response to the issue of personal data, which includes data that can be used to identify specific people. The government has developed the “Digital Personal Data Protection Act, 2023” draught, which represents an important effort to protect personal data while admitting its legal use.
Different Countries’ Approaches to Data Protection Laws
- The strategy of the European Union A comprehensive data protection framework governing the processing of personal data is represented by the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). It recognises the right to privacy as a fundamental freedom, protecting a person’s self-respect and control over the data they produce. Notably, the Digital Markets Act identifies and regulates “dominant gatekeeper” platforms to stop unfair practises and the misuse of power, while the Digital Services Act focuses on issues like hate speech and counterfeit goods.
- Using the American model: In the US, privacy protection is centred on safeguarding individual “liberty,” which protects private life from governmental encroachment. In contrast to the EU, the US does not have a comprehensive set of privacy rights or principles that include data collection, use, and disclosure.
- The Chinese Approach: Data principals are empowered to prohibit the misuse of personal data under the Personal Information Protection Law (PIPL). The Data Security Law also places limitations on cross-border transfers by classifying corporate data according to priority categories. The government has broad authority to supervise data collecting and control private businesses, even ordering operational halts until compliance is proven.
- India-related similarities: Similar to the Chinese strategy, India has adopted a clause that allows the central government to prohibit platforms that persistently violate the rules.
Act’s Core Goals: Finding a Balance
With a dual focus, the proposed Act emphasises both the right of individuals to protect their personal information and the necessity of lawful data processing. A key component is the regulation of personal data processing, balancing the rights and obligations of both citizens, referred to as “Digital Nagriks,” and Data Fiduciaries entrusted with lawful data usage. Its significance lies in providing a set of ethical guidelines and best practises to guide organisations and the government in handling personal data.
The Digital Personal Data Protection Act, 2023: Key Points
- Widespread Applicability The processing of digital personal data within India is covered by the Act’s scope. If it relates to providing goods or services or profiling individuals inside of India, it extends its authority to personal data processing outside of Indian boundaries.
- Informed Consent: The Act upholds the idea that personal data should only be processed with an individual’s informed consent and only for lawful purposes. Prior to requesting consent, a prerequisite notification outlining the intended data collection and processing is required. Every time they choose, people can withdraw their consent. The legal guardian of someone under 18 must give their permission.
- Empowering Data Principals: The Act grants specific rights to those who are recognised as Data Principals, including the ability to request processing information, request the rectification or erasure of personal data, and name a representative in the event of their incapacity or death.
- Cross-Border Data Transfer: Under the prescribed terms and conditions, the Central Government is authorised to designate the nations to whom Data Fiduciaries may transfer personal data.
- Exemptions and the Data Protection Board: Certain activities undertaken by the government in furtherance of public safety and order are exempt from some of the Act’s requirements. The creation of the Data Protection Board of India, tasked with duties like monitoring compliance, imposing fines, handling data breaches, and resolving complaints, gains prominence.
- Imposing Sanctions; The Act outlines sanctions for infractions, ranging from non-compliance sanctions for children’s data protection to sanctions for insufficient data breach prevention measures.
The Digital Personal Data Protection Act of 2023’s importance
The Act is an important step towards protecting consumers’ private information, limiting corporate impunity, and bolstering the Right to Privacy. Large fines for non-compliance will be used to hold both customers and powerful corporations responsible. The Act strengthens citizens’ rights to online privacy by enhancing the transparency of internet corporations, mobile applications, and businesses.
Government Exemptions and Data Access:
- The Act’s broad government exemptions from data protection standards are raising concerns among critics. Serious privacy and civil liberties problems are raised when the government is given access to personal information without permission for purposes including national security, public order, and sovereignty. It is believed that the clause permitting the government to compel organisations to submit anonymized or non-personal data for research or policy-making reasons may encourage data abuse.
- Legislation like the Criminal Procedure (Identification) Act, 2022, and the Registration of Births and Deaths (Amendment) Act, 2023, both of which create databases holding exhaustive information about Indian citizens and their families, signal an alarming trend of democratic regression in the digital sphere.
- The Aarogya Setu app, which evolved from a pandemic-fighting tool into a requirement for surveillance, is a stark example. Similar privacy issues affected Co-Win, an online vaccination platform. Such initiatives, like the “Smart Cities Mission,” which aims to centralise real-time data for residents but frequently misses deadlines, raise concerns among individuals about their safety and the program’s effectiveness due to this disdain for data protection.
Cross-Border Data Transfer:
- The Act’s provisions for moving personal data across borders have come under fire for not having defined clearance procedures and standards.
- Lack of clear criteria for foreign data transfers creates uncertainty over compliance and data flow.
- The requirement to store a copy of personal data in India presents hurdles for multinational businesses, creating operational complexity and greater expenses.
Individual Freedoms and Rights
- Although the Act grants certain rights to individuals about their data, critics claim that these rights are subject to exclusions that may reduce their usefulness. Notably, the right to erasure is not unqualified and may be suppressed under certain situations. Furthermore, the provisions of the Act do not create a strong process for people to request compensation or remedy for harm brought on by data breaches or misuse.
- Projects like the “National Automated Facial Recognition System” and the “Social Media Communications Hub” highlight the open goal of mass monitoring. Unsettlingly, the Data Act, which ironically fails to protect citizens’ interests, provides legal protection for these enterprises. The Act places the onus of responsibility on individuals rather than protecting personal data, even fining marginalised groups for potentially erroneous or incomplete data submissions. Such clauses expose a distorted viewpoint in which the needs of the state take precedence above those of the people.
Taking on New Challenges in the Digital Age
Addressing New Challenges in the Digital Age Critics have pointed out potential limitations in the Act’s capacity to address problems brought on by new digital practises and technologies. To ensure strong protection of personal data, factors including artificial intelligence, big data analytics, social media platforms, and online profiling necessitate specialised considerations.In order to maintain privacy safeguards, supporters stress the significance of incorporating privacy by design and default principles from the onset of system and process development.
Perspectives on Data Privacy Regulation Around the World
Globally, about 70% of nations have passed data protection laws, with the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation serving as the benchmark. While Australia passed legislation allowing police access to encrypted data, countries like China and Vietnam tightened data transit regulations.
The Digital Personal Data Protection Act, 2023 is a significant advancement in protecting peoples’ data rights while requiring organisations to uphold moral data practises. The Supreme Court’s declaration of the constitutional right to privacy in the Justice K. S. Puttaswamy (Retd) v. Union of India Case (2017) is strengthened by the legislative support. With an eye towards protecting the sanctity of personal data and individual liberties, India embraces this digital evolution.