Islamabad, (May 15, 2020): Bytes for All, Pakistan (B4A) rejects the proposed draft of the Personal Data Protection Bill 2020 in its current shape, believing that it would serve as a safeguard for the perpetrators of the right to privacy than to safeguard the citizens personal data. However, it is welcoming that the government has shown its willingness to enact this important law.

Bytes for All has grave concerns over the draft bill which is fraught with problematic provisions, highly inconsistent with the constitutional guarantees and the global human rights frameworks. The bill contains ambiguous language in various sections that invokes subjectivity and can be misinterpreted according to the authorities’ demands. The grey areas and ambiguous language in the draft bill suggests that the basic liberties of the citizens of Pakistan would be curtailed if the bill is passed by the parliament in its current form.

With the perils of the digital age, the privacy right and data protection frameworks need to be developed stronger than before, ensuring the transparency, accountability, data minimization, integrity and confidentiality, and accuracy. The bill, however, goes against the freedoms that the citizens are entitled to by giving the authorities over-broad and arbitrary powers to the proposed Authority. 

The current draft bill suggest that the personal data of the citizens is to be treated as a property of the state, which is highly contrasting to personal data protection principles. The bill is also problematic with regards to the number of days for complying with the data access request and must be amended to ensure fairness to the data subject.

B4A calls for a pro-people data protection bill which gives much consent and power to the citizens to make decisions about their personal data. Data protection is a serious matter that concerns the citizens, therefore, should be tailored according to the consent provided by the citizens. Subjective terminologies in the bill should be amended so that the bill is not misused for illegal collection and processing of citizen’s personal data.

We also propose that there should be an independent Privacy and Data Protection Commission instead of the Authority without the inclusion of ex-officio members from ministries. We have made a case that the Government of Pakistan should set up a Privacy Commission – an independent statutory body within this Act of the Parliament. Only this commission of experts will be able to provide and ensure an independent implementation of Personal Data Protection Bill in the country. This commission will have the sole responsibility to protect constitutional guarantees for the citizens and enable pro-people and pro-business Data Protection regime in Pakistan.

Our detailed submission is accessible here.

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May 15, 2020 By bytesforall