Press Trust of india

Editors Guild welcomes draft data protection bill

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New Delhi, Jul 31: The Editors Guild of India today welcomed the draft data protection bill, noting that the provisions for journalists in it broadly allow media professionals to use sensitive as well as non-sensitive personal data while discharging their duties.

Amid a sharp rise in data breaches, a new legislation last week proposed taking explicit consent of individuals before sensitive personal information such as religious or political beliefs, sexual orientation and biometric information, is processed.

The draft of the Personal Data Protection Bill, 2018 — which is based on the recommendations of the government — constituted high-level panel set up last year and headed by Justice B N Srikrishna — restricts and imposes conditions on the cross-border transfer of personal data, and suggests setting up of the Data Protection Authority of India to prevent any misuse of personal information.

The Editors Guild of India, in a statement, said it welcomes the specific provisions for journalists in the draft Personal Data Protection Bill 2018 as they broadly allow media professionals to use sensitive as well as non-sensitive personal data while discharging their duties.

“By placing data gathered for ‘journalistic purposes’ in the exempt list under the proposed law, the committee, headed by Justice B N Srikrishna, has also allowed journalists to collect, review and preserve personal data for use in news reports without seeking the consent of individuals.

“However, the Srikrishna draft says journalists will have to adhere to the code of ethics prescribed by the Press Council of India or ‘any media self-regulatory organisation,” it said.

The Guild’s Code of Ethics provides for broad norms and it will also be amended soon for greater clarity, the statement said.

The Guild also endorses the Srikrishna Committee’s suggestion that the Press Council of India and other media watchdogs should incorporate provisions for data privacy in their code of ethics so that the exemption provided to journalists does not lead to undue violation of the data protection rights of individuals, it said.

The Srikrishna panel submitted its report on data protection as also the draft of the bill to Union Minister for Information Technology Ravi Shankar Prasad, wrapping up nearly one year of deliberations.

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