Mains Q & A 27 February 2023

Mains Q & A 27 February 2023

Q1. It is important to safeguard citizens' rights and prevent the formation of a surveillance state. Discuss the statement in light of the Data Protection Law, 2021. (250 Words)

Paper & Topic: GS II Government Policies and Interventions

Model Answer:

Introduction:

Data security is the process of protecting data, which includes the interaction of technology with data collection and delivery. By allowing the use of data for a range of objectives while attempting to balance people’s rights to privacy. Data abuse is more likely due to the enormous amount of private information that is now readily accessible online and the development of technologies like machine learning, artificial intelligence, and data mining.

Body:

Background: India pioneered data protection:

There is no official legal framework for data protection in India. Data protection is currently typically covered by a few laws.
User data is protected from unauthorised use by Sec. 43A of the Information Technology Act of 2000, although it only applies to corporate enterprises, not governmental bodies. However, the law only applies to sensitive personal data, such as biometric data and medical records.
Other laws that protect personal information include the Copyrights Act of 1957 and the Consumer Protection Act of 2015.
As a result of the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Judge K.S. Puttaswamy (Retd) v. Union of India, which recognised the right to privacy as a fundamental right, more strict data protection legislation were necessary in 2017.
A committee headed by retired justice B N Srikrishna published a draught of the bill in 2018. The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology has just introduced the Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019 into Lok Sabha.

What a data protection bill should include:

Non-personal data: The Bill’s title and scope have been modified. The Data Protection Bill 2021 has taken the place of the Personal Data Protection Bill. This suggests that non-personal information would be covered by the Bill as well.
The Parliamentary Committee has also stated that this Bill should apply to both types of data until a distinct framework is devised to distinguish between personal and non-personal data.
Collecting and storage: The regulation governs the handling, gathering, and keeping of personal data pertaining to individuals.
Data Principal: A person whose personal information is treated in accordance with the bill is referred to as a data principle.
Fiduciary of data: A person or organisation that chooses how and why to process data is known as a data fiduciary.
The Law, which is applicable to both governmental organisations and companies with Indian incorporation, regulates the handling of data.
Data localization has an impact on international businesses that work with Indian citizens’ personal information.
Authority for Information Protection The Bill creates a DPA to oversee compliance with its requirements and establish further guidelines for the handling of personal data pertaining to individuals.

State exception in the law raises concerns:

Government exemptions: Any government agency may be exempt from the law’s obligations, according to Section 35 of the bill.
But, the Government would have to establish the necessary protocols, safeguards, and supervision mechanisms.
Arbitrary and intrusive: The Pegasus case reveals how weak the current norms are for shielding citizens from arbitrary and intrusive State interference.

Concerns with legislation permitting surveillance include the following:

Reasons of expediency: In order for the Government to rely on these justifications, a very low bar must be met.
Absence of a need for an exemption order It is not necessary for an exemption order to be proportionate to performing a particular State responsibility.
There is no way to monitor executive actions: No protections specified for this procedure or the executive’s choice to issue the order are subject to inspection.
State surveillance: When processing personal data for a criminal investigation, the Bill’s Section 36(a) permits an exception. So, this provision may encourage vigilantism or permit private spying.

Conclusion:

Since that data privacy is a fundamental right of a citizen and that potential data breaches could cause economic downturns, the government needs to reassess the aforementioned open concerns. The need for a strict data protection law is imperative. Prioritization must be given to public education, better implementation and regulation, and efficient grievance redressal. Despite the aforementioned protections, the state shouldn’t be able to use the law as a weapon for arbitrary ends. Adequate checks and balances are required to ensure that the law does not lead to a surveillance state.

Q2. The introduction of election bonds signalled the dawn of a new era of accountability and openness. Indeed, all that electoral bonds have done is make secrecy legal. Critically analyze. (250 Words)

Paper & Topic: GS II Election related issues

Model Answer:

Introduction:

By the usage of electoral bonds, donors will be able to finance political parties through banks. The banking product, which is known as a bond but resembles promissory notes, will not yield interest. The electoral bond will not bear the payee’s name; it is a bearer instrument that can be bought for any sum in multiples of Rs 1,000, Rs 10,000, Rs 1 lakh, Rs 10 lakh, or Rs 1 crore.
Electoral bonds are an innovative way to finance elections that have attracted a lot of attention and controversy since their introduction in 2018. This has been criticised as being a significant step backward in the effort to achieve transparency in political finance.

Body:

The purpose of the electoral bonds is:

To increase openness in the money and donations received by political parties, electoral bonds have been formed.
The strategy asks for creating an audit trail and a validated KYC system for bond purchases. Because of the limited window and quick development process, misuse would be improbable.
The electoral bonds will induce donors to make contributions through banking services, enabling the issuing authorities to gather their names. This will ensure transparency and accountability and is a key step towards election reform.
It is utterly opaque the previous practise of accepting cash donations from unknown sources. The identity of the donor, the donee, the quantity of donations, and the nature of expenditures are all kept a secret.
According to the government, the Bonds system will encourage donations of clean money to politics from people, businesses, HUF, religious organisations, charities, etc.
These organisations can buy the bonds and then give them to the political parties of their choice, who are then responsible for paying them back within the specified time frame.
The quantity of bonds that each donor and party have acquired in their accounts as well as the number of bonds that they have received must both be disclosed. This would increase the process’ level of transparency.
The electoral bonds are intended to end the current practise of making largely anonymous financial contributions to political parties, which fuels the creation of illicit financial flows in the economy.

Since their creation, election-related bonds have developed into a vital source of fundraising for all major political parties.
Between March 2018 and January 2021, parties redeemed Rs 6,514.50 crore in electoral bonds.
Although though the ruling BJP was able to collect the bulk (60.17%) of political donations generated through the bonds, this method was used to contribute about 50% of the total income of all national and regional parties.
The percentage of political donations originating from cash gifts or other anonymous sources appears to have dramatically decreased for both of the major political parties.
Instead, a greater amount of money is now moved through the established banking system. Due to the fact that most political donations were made in cash and were therefore impossible to track, the earlier technique was unable to support this.
The electoral bonds scheme is superior to the old system from this point of view.

Election bonds have only increased public acceptance of opacity:

Given the absence of disclosure regulations for people purchasing electoral bonds, the action could be abused.
Due to electoral bonds, the funding of elections has become significantly more complicated. As a result, more and more illegal money will get into the political system. Election-related bonds would “severely influence” the financial openness of political parties.
Businesses may have a legitimate means to give money they have hidden away in tax havens to a political party through the use of electoral bonds. If this were possible, a businessman could legitimately give the politician or party that brought about the policy change a percentage of the profits that follow from it.
Companies are no longer obligated to publish the names of the organisations to whom they have made donations in order to prevent shareholders from understanding where their money has gone.
Given that they are both aware of the person’s identity, the donor bank and the receiver bank may substantially favour the ruling party. Yet, the RBI, which is constrained by the Central government’s need for information, receives reports from both banks.

Election funding alternatives:

According to the former chief election commissioner S.Y. Quraishi, a National Electoral Fund that accepts donations from all contributors is a solution to take into account.
According on how many votes each political party receives, the funds would be awarded to them. In addition to protecting donors’ privacy, this would stop dark money from funding political campaigns.
The annual cost of MPLADS funding for all MPs is close to 4,000 crore, and even one year of the five-year term of an MP would be enough to cover state sponsorship of Lok Sabha candidates. This is a sanctioned method for MPs and MLAs to lavish funds on their districts at taxpayer expense.
Candidates who receive direct money will be compensated based on their final percentage of votes cast.
The only approach to achieve such transparency in political fundraising is to outlaw any cash contributions to political parties from people or businesses.
requiring that all parties only accept donations made by check or other forms of payment.
For all those who make such donations, there should be clear guidelines for receiving tax benefits.
Make it a requirement that political parties share information on all donations with the income-tax department and the Election Commission.
Political party funding by the government is a possibility. The partial state sponsorship of recognised political parties was approved by the Indrajit Gupta Committee on State Funding of Elections.
To allocate funds to national parties, state parties, and independent candidates, as well as to monitor candidates’ personal expenditures above what the government contributes, the mechanics of this procedure must be properly developed.
Through awareness campaigns, voters must be made aware of the negative impacts of money power in elections. adding political parties to the RTI act’s scope.

Conclusion:

Big donors “lobby and capture” the government as a result of opaque political fundraising, according to the 255th Law Commission Report on Electoral Reforms. The Election Commission is one of the commissions that has provided specific recommendations on appropriate solutions. Examining and implementing public funding with the appropriate checks and balances is necessary.

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