Lok Sabha witnessed more legislation on digital rights than Rajya Sabha, a scrutiny of private member’s legislation reveals. Parliamentary questions in Lok Sabha about data protection, Aadhaar data breaches, digital privacy, and surveillance have more than doubled between the last two sessions, according to a new report released by international digital rights NGO Access Now.
In a review of the last five years of Parliament, Lok Sabha expressed more interest in surveillance and snooping, with 91 questions over the last 10 years against Rajya Sabha’s 13.
In both Houses, focus has shifted from snooping and net neutrality in the 2015 budget session, to Aadhaar in 2016 and 2017, and to data protection in 2018.
The Standing Committee on Information and Technology has focused mostly on call drops, network neutrality, data protection and privacy, BharatNet, and social media, in that order. The Standing Committee on Home Affairs has focused on Aadhaar and privacy, while the Standing Committee on Finance has focused on digital governance.
“In addressing these important issues in the context of the rapid growth of the internet, the Parliament will take an important role in developing rights-respecting frameworks for India’s democracy in the digital age,” the report said. The researchers relied on circulars, reports, and documents published by the secretariats of the Parliament available on the websites of both Houses.
Since 2014, digital topics have come up most often in Lok Sabha during the zero hours or special mentions as well as in the parliamentary debates. In Rajya Sabha, they have recently been raised increasingly in motions and resolutions as well.
In the 16th Lok Sabha, Congress’s S P Muddahanumegowda asked the most privacy-related questions, while BJP’s Rajeev Chandrasekhar has asked the most in Rajya Sabha over the past 10 years.