India's Editors Guild Raises Concerns: Digital Data Bill Threatens Press Freedom
India's Editors Guild Raises Concerns: Digital Data Bill Threatens Press Freedom

New Delhi: The proposed Digital Personal Data Protection Bill has come under intense scrutiny, with the Editors Guild of India expressing grave concerns about its potential impact on press freedom and citizens' right to privacy. The bill, currently being debated in Parliament, has raised alarm among various privacy and civil liberties groups, including the Internet Freedom Foundation.

The Editors Guild of India has issued a statement cautioning that the bill's provisions create an "enabling framework" for the surveillance of citizens, including journalists and their sources. This, the Guild fears, could result in a "chilling effect" on journalistic activities within the country. The bill grants the government wide-ranging powers to collect and share personal data, with certain provisions allowing for exemptions from the requirement to obtain a warrant before accessing such data.

The primary concern raised by the Guild is that these provisions may be exploited to target journalists and their sources, undermining the principles of press freedom and endangering the confidentiality of journalistic investigations. Furthermore, the bill's inadequate protection of the right to privacy has intensified fears of potential misuse of personal data by the government.

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Privacy and civil liberties groups, such as the Internet Freedom Foundation, have echoed the Editors Guild's anxieties, describing the bill as a significant setback for privacy in India. They also stress that the proposed legislation could have a chilling effect on free speech and expression, stifling the open discourse that is vital for a democratic society.

In light of the gravity of these concerns, the Editors Guild of India has urged the government to subject the bill to further scrutiny by referring it to a parliamentary standing committee. This additional examination would enable stakeholders to address the identified shortcomings and amend the bill to ensure a better balance between data protection, privacy rights, and press freedom.

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As the debate on the Digital Personal Data Protection Bill continues, it remains critical to strike a delicate balance between safeguarding citizens' privacy and upholding the fundamental principles of press freedom and free expression. The ultimate shape of the bill could significantly impact the lives of Indians, making it imperative for lawmakers to address these apprehensions thoroughly.

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