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Today’s important articles/news in various newspapers (30th July)

Dear aspirants, following are the links of various articles taken from various newspapers. Click the link to read further. To get notification, follow the blog. Thank you

1. Draft data protection bill recommendations throw up questions of acceptability, feasibility

  1. The Committee of Experts under the chairmanship of Justice B N Srikrishna has submitted its proposed law on data protection
  2. Guided by the principles laid down by the Supreme Court in Justice K S Puttaswamy (retd.) and Anr. vs Union Of India And Ors, the framework seeks to empower individuals to protect their personal data

Data protection is now a global concern

  1. In the past few decades, data protection has emerged as a hotbed of legislative action globally
  2. The European Union has implemented its General Data Protection Regulationrecently

Proposed provisions

  1. The crux of the proposed legislation is that the personal data of individuals (data principals) can be processed (i.e. collected, used, stored, disclosed to third parties, etc.) by entities (data fiduciaries) only if the individual has given her free, informed and specific consent
  2. Such consent is capable of being withdrawn
  3. Personal data may also be processed under certain specific circumstances such as state function, emergent health and safety situations, compliance with a judicial order etc.
  4. However, in each case, data fiduciaries, be it the government or private entities, will be required to strictly comply with principles such as collection limitation, purpose limitation, security safeguards, and measures of transparency and accountability that are laid down in the law
  5. The law provides heightened safeguards for processing of sensitive personal data, such as financial data, health data, sex life and sexual orientation, caste or tribe, official identifiers such as Aadhaar, religious and political beliefs or affiliations, etc.
  6. The proposed law will be applicable to both private and public entities

Concerns related to these provisions

  1. The proposed law contains exemptions for the processing of personal data for certain purposes, such as journalistic activities, law enforcement, security of the state, etc.
  2. It has been pointed out that the exemption may be too broad and may not effectively address the issue of surveillance and systematic access to citizens’ data by the state
  3. The proposed data protection law ensures that state surveillance agencies attempting to access personal data or sensitive personal data without the authorisation of law will not be able to avail of this exemption

Current status of data protection in India

  1. As of now, there is no statutory framework that holistically protects the informational privacy of individuals in India
  2. The Information Technology (Reasonable Security Practices and Procedures and Sensitive Personal Data or Information) Rules, 2011 were a small but significant step in this direction
  3. However, these Rules are selectively applicable to certain body corporates and suffer from poor implementation
  4. There are scattered oversight mechanisms laid down in statutes such as the Telegraph Act of 1885

Principles laid down in Puttaswamy case

It held that to allow a restriction on privacy, three requirements ought to be fulfilled:

  1. First, the restriction must be by law
  2. Second, it must promote a legitimate state interest of which national security is an example; and
  3. Third, it must be necessary and proportionate

Applicability still an issue

  1. Many of the recommendations made by the committee throw up important questions of acceptability and feasibility for the industry, stakeholders and allied sectors
  2. The stance on cross-border flow of personal data heightened organisational measures on data fiduciaries, and individual participation rights have sparked a debate on compliance burdens on data fiduciaries and perceived impediments to a free and fair digital economy

Way Forward

  1. The committee has set the ball rolling on several issues concerning the protection of personal data by setting out a proposed law
  2. The proposed data protection law, after taking into account the existing gaps in the current framework and global best practices, creates a novel framework tailored to India’s constitutional, economic, and socio-political realities
  3. It is expected that through further consultations and dialogue, citizens and stakeholders will build on this foundation by giving suggestions to strengthen the legal framework and ensure that an effective data protection regime is set up in India

2. India plans to buy missile shield from U.S.

  • India is in talks with the U.S. to procure an advanced air defence system to defend the National Capital Region (NCR) from aerial attacks.

Details

  • The NASAMS was developed by Raytheon in partnership with KONGSBERG Defence and Aerospace of Norway.
  • The system can be deployed to identify, engage and destroy aircraft, helicopters, cruise missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), as well as protect high-value assets and mass population centres against air-to-surface threats.
  • NASAMS-II is an upgraded version of the NASAMS and features new 3D mobile surveillance radars and 12 missile launchers for quicker reaction.
  • Owned by seven countries, it has been integrated into the US National Capital Region’s air defense system since 2005. Apart from the US, it is also in service in Norway, Finland, Spain and the Netherlands.

Image result for India plans to buy missile shield from U.S.

3. Layers of protection: on changes in anti-corruption law

  1. The amendments to the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, adopted recently by both Houses of Parliament, are a mixed bag
  2. Moves to make changes in this law, aimed at combating corruption in government, were largely centred on the misuse of one provision — Section 13 (1)d
  3. Under this provision, public servants are culpable for securing a pecuniary advantage for another “without any public interest”

Impact of Section 13(d)

  1. It resulted in many honest officials being prosecuted even when they gained nothing and merely exercised their power or discretion in favour of someone
  2. It had a chilling effect on governance and deterred bold decision-making

Effect of the amendment 

  1. The amended form may have a liberating effect on honest officials
  2. It is more concise and restricts criminal misconduct to two offences:
  • misappropriating or converting to one’s own use property entrusted to a public servant or is in his control, and
  • amassing unexplained wealth

An explanation has been added that a person “shall be presumed to have intentionally enriched himself” if he cannot account for his assets through known sources of income

On lines of UN convention

  1. By making citizens liable for offering a bribe to a public servant, the anti-corruption law has been brought in line with the UN Convention Against Corruption
  2. The only exception to this rule is when one is forced to give a bribe
  3. This exception kicks in only when the fact that one was forced to pay a bribe is reported to a law enforcement authority within seven days
  4. The penal provision can empower people by allowing them to cite it to refuse to pay a bribe

Adverse effect also possible

  1. There is no mention on what happens when the police or any other agency refuses to register a complaint
  2. People may be left in the lurch with no redress
  3. Further, it may render them vulnerable to threats from unscrupulous public servants who collect money to speed up public services but do not deliver

Prior sanction for investigation

  1. The most unacceptable change is the introduction of a prior approval norm to start an investigation
  2. When a prior sanction requirement exists in law for prosecution, it is incomprehensible that the legislature should create another layer of protection in the initial stage of a probe

Way forward

  1. Public servants need to be protected against unfair prosecution, but a genuine drive against corruption needs a package of legislative measures
  2. These should contain penal provisions, create an ombudsman in the form of a Lokpal or Lokayukta, as well as assure citizens of time-bound services and whistle-blower protection

UN Convention Against Corruption

  1. The United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) is a multilateral treaty negotiated by member states of the United Nations (UN) and promoted by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC)
  2. It is one of several legally binding international anti-corruption agreements
  3. UNCAC was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 31 October 2003
  4. UNCAC’s goal is to reduce various types of corruption that can occur across country borders, such as trading in influence and abuse of power, as well as corruption in the private sector, such as embezzlement and money laundering
  5. Another goal of the UNCAC is to strengthen international law enforcement and judicial cooperation between countries by providing effective legal mechanisms for international asset recovery
  6. UNCAC requires state parties to the treaty to implement several anti-corruption measures that focus on five main areas:
  • prevention
  • law enforcement
  • international cooperation
  • asset recovery
  • technical assistance and information exchange

4. Government-mukt governance

  1. Despite the astonishing pace of digitisation in India, it continues to rank a relatively low 96 in the United Nation’s E-Government Development Index, whose 2018 rankings were released last week
  2. With an EGDI index score of 0.5669, India is just above the world average of 0.55
  3. India’s score is also shy of Iran (0.6083) and even in the SAARC region, Sri Lanka is ahead of India

About the index

  1. The UN E-Government Development Survey is the only global initiative to measure and track how governments are faring on the e-governance front
  2. The report looks at how e-government can facilitate integrated policies and services across the three dimensions of sustainable development

Reasons for low ranking

  1. In areas like public health and land records, the progress has stopped with putting up some downloadable forms online
  2. Many government departments still insist on physical forms and signatures, despite the near universalisation of an identity instrument like Aadhaar, which allows simple and foolproof authentication

High ranking in e-participation

  1. India does rank very high in one sub-index
  2. It moved up 12 places in the E-Participation Index, from 27 in 2016 to 15 in 2018
  3. The EPI looks at issues like e-information, e-consultation and e-decision making to arrive at a score

The significance of this ranking

  1. India’s high ranking does signify two things:
  • that the government is making more information available online and
  • that more people are in a position to access that information, and also electronically participate in policy formation and decision-making

Linkages between e-governance and poverty alleviation

  1. The reason the UN compiles this index and urges member countries to focus on e-government initiatives is that there is a clear link between greater e-governance and easier public access to government services and a reduction in poverty and inequality
  2. One of the biggest reasons our poverty alleviation measures have failed to achieve the desired impact (apart from corruption and leakage) is inefficient targeting, and lack of information with the intended beneficiaries about plans and schemes meant to assist them

Way Forward

  1. Knowledge is power, but access to knowledge is another kind of power and this is where digital can be a great disruptor
  2. With the India Stack (Aadhaar, UPI, etc. aimed at ensuring presence-less, cashless and paperless service delivery), and the ongoing mobile and broadband revolution, India can become a world leader in e-governance

5. Govt. plans ‘ISRO-like’ ocean mission

  • It is an initiative of Ministry of Earth Sciences
  • It will help in improving India’s position in ocean research field.
  • The mission proposes to explore the deep ocean similar to the space exploration started by ISRO

Key Deliverables

  • It is working to deliver offshore desalination plant that will work with tidal energy, and developing a submersible vehicle that can go to a depth of at least 6,000 metres with three people on board.
  • So, the focus will be on technologies for deep-sea mining, underwater vehicles, underwater robotics and ocean climate change advisory services

India’s Exclusive Rights to Explore Polymetallic Nodules

  • India has been allotted a site of 1,50,000 square kilometres in the Central Indian Ocean Basin (CIOB) by the UN International Sea Bed Authority for exploitation of polymetallic nodules (PMN).
  • These are rocks scattered on the seabed containing iron, manganese, nickel and cobalt.

International Seabed Authority (ISA)

  • ISA is a UN body set up to regulate the exploration and exploitation of marine non-living resources of oceans in international waters. It has responsibility for the regulation of seabed mining beyond the limits of national jurisdiction. It was established in 1994.
  • India actively contributes to the work of International Seabed Authority.

6. Govt to roll out DigiYatra offering for air passengers soon

  • It is an initiative of Ministry of Civil Aviation
  • The ‘DigiYatra’ is an industry-led initiative coordinated by the Ministry in line with the Prime Minister Modi’s Digital India’s vision to transform the nation into a digitally empowered society.
  • It aims to bring together entire industry to develop a digital ecosystem that will deliver Indian customers a seamless, consistent and paperless service experience at every touch point of their journey.
  • The basic objective is to reduce queues at airports and bring efficiency to the boarding process
  • All aviation stakeholders – airlines, airport operators, security and immigration agencies, cab operators, retail establishment and others are working to devise digital standards which can enable seamless exchange of data and information.

Four Key Pillars

  • Connected Passengers, Connected Airports, Connected Flying and Connected Systems

Features

  • Submit grievances, share experiences and provide feedback
  • Get a prompt when their luggage reaches the baggage claim belt
  • Receive relevant information pertaining to various facilities, protocols, airline timings, queue lengths at airports etc
  • Walk-through security scanners swiftly owing to advanced biometric security solutions
  • Plan their trips efficiently by identifying price trends and estimate future airfares at the time of ticket booking

Implementation

  • The facility will use digital technology to enhance air passenger experience all the way from ticket booking to airport entry check, security check and aircraft boarding.
  • For this, a passenger needs to enrol in to DigiYatra program through AirSewa app and a DigiYatra verified passenger will get hassle free entry at airport through E-Gates.
  • The ID verification will be done by the BCAS-approved Government ID. At the entry gate a single token for the passenger will be created.

Privacy concern addressed

  • This facility is in conformity with privacy guidelines of the Supreme Court
  • When an individual enters the airport, their images will be captured and then they will be able to go through the full lifecycle of travel in a seamless manner
  • Once an individual establishes identity they will be able to pass through the entire lifecycle of the travel and this facility is optional.
  • If somebody does not want to disclose identity, there will be separate provision for them.

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