A new law on data protection is being framed, Law and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad informed the Rajya Sabha on Friday. His remarks came after TMC MP Derek O’Brien sought the government’s response on measures being taken for data protection and national security on the internet.
Replying to supplementaries during Question Hour, Prasad said, “India is emerging as a big centre of data analysis. The government has set up a committee headed by retired Supreme Court judge Justice B N Srikrishna. We are in the process of framing a data protection law. The paper has been circulated and field hearing is going on. We will come up with a data protection law very soon.”
He also said, “We are alive to cyber security (threats), and our Prime Minister has said publicly that cyber war is a bloodless law.”
On whether internet availability would be made a fundamental right, Prasad said, “Internet access is not negotiable.” He clarified that there is no proposal to make internet availability a fundamental right, but the government is committed to provide internet connectivity to citizens.
“A paper transaction declaring fundamental right is one thing; making it available without discrimination is the other,” he said. The government is working towards 100 per cent internet connectivity, and “we are encouraging competition in the sector to ensure better services… Our vision of Digital India is inclusive digital development.”
Prasad said that in 2011, there was a plan to connect every village to the internet and optical cable fibres, but it did not make progress. “When our government came to power in 2014, only 358 km of optical cable network was laid, but in 3.5 years a total of 2.53 lakh km of optical cable fibre has been laid. One lakh gram panchayats have been lit up. Of these, 57,000 have internet facilities.”
Quoting a TRAI report of June, he said India already has over 431.21 million internet users.