Key changes to RTI in Revised Indian Data Protection Bill
The Indian government has proposed amending the Right To Information (RTI) Act to protect individual privacy by denying any personal information through an amendment in the proposed data protection law.
The draft of the Digital Data Protection Bill proposes to do away with 8.1 (j) section of the RTI Act, which allows information commissioner to determine if personal information about administration officials can be released in the greater public interest.
Under RTI Act, information about an individual with the government, including its employees, can be shared following an RTI application provided there is enough ground that this will serve larger public interest.
The information can be shared with the application through a speaking order giving reasons why sharing the information will serve the large public interest. But, almost a third of the total rejections of RTI applications are by invoking section 8.1 (j) and the provision is said to be one of the most misused parts of the law, according to experts.
The words “the disclosure of which has no relationship to any public activity or interest, or which would cause unwarranted invasion of the privacy of the individual unless the Central Public Information Officer or the State Public Information Officer or the appellate authority, as the case may be, is satisfied that the larger public interest justifies the disclosure of such information” shall be omitted,” the draft said.
With this, the amended section 8.1 (j) exemption would read “information which relates to personal information”.
While the data law proposal states this is in order to bring in “consistency”, experts said this could give a cover to corrupt officials.
The proposed data protection law also provides for deletion of section 43A of the Information Technology Act dealing with compensation to protect data as this area would be covered under the new proposed