Government looks to unveil the Digital India Act first draft by the end of July


Government looks to unveil the Digital India Act first draft by the end of July
The Union government is preparing to release the first draft of the new Digital India Act (DIA) by the end of July or early August, said people aware of the matter. “We will start pre-draft consultations in the initial week of May in which we will invite lawyers, public policy consultants and other experts to submit their opinions on what should be included in the new Act. We will also give them (stakeholders) 45 days to upload their written submissions,” said a senior government official.
The electronics and information technology ministry will then study the submissions and may invite government and private legal experts to review the final draft before it is released for public consultation, said the official. “If the need be, there can be a revised draft based on the legal feedback received. A broad consensus needs to be arrived at,” said the official.
The series of public consultations, likely to start from the 3rd of May in Delhi, will also be held in other cities. The ministry has already conducted rigorous internal meetings on the DIA, said the people. The Digital India Act aims to replace the 23-year-old Information Technology Act of 2000 in its entirety instead of amending the law.
On April a report stated that the electronics and IT ministry may look to include provisions to curb the influence of Big Tech in the DIA. People with knowledge of the matter had then told that these regulations may look to restrain big tech companies from achieving or misusing market dominance.
The new law may also introduce a guiding framework with provisions related to data storage, online gaming, cyberbullying, doxing and other cybercrimes. It may also introduce working guidelines to classify and regulate various online portals such as e-commerce websites and AI-enabled platforms.
“One of the aspects that have been discussed in the early phases is that there needs to be a separate classification for online intermediaries on basis of their business and user base. It does not make much sense to classify a social media intermediary and an online medicine selling intermediary as intermediary and expect them to adhere to the same standards of data processing,” an official said on condition of anonymity.
The Digital India Act is the third major law that is being overhauled by the electronics and IT ministry. In 2022, the ministry had withdrawn an older version of the Data Protection Bill after it had been languishing in Parliament for more than three years. A new version of the data bill, now named the Digital Personal Data Protection Bill of 2022, was released in November for public consultation and is now waiting to be introduced in Parliament.