Changes to the RTI Act Proposed by Data Bill

November 21, 2022 | Boy of Pranay



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The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) administration is making revisions to the information-sharing clauses of the RTI Act for the first time.

Provision 8.1(j) of the RTI Act, which empowers the Information Commissioner to decide whether personal information about government employees may be shared in the public interest, is proposed to be repealed in the draft law. digital data protection law.

The Data Protection Bill, a draft of which was published on Friday, would amend the Right to Information (RTI) Act to protect the privacy of individuals by prohibiting the disclosure of any personal information.

The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) administration is making revisions to the information-sharing clauses of the RTI Act for the first time.

The provisions of the RTI Act relating to the appointment and remuneration of information commissioners were revised by the government in 2019 giving it the power to choose the length of the mandate and the salary of the commissioners.

In accordance with the RTI Act, information held by the government, including that of its employees, may be disclosed in response to an RTI request if there is sufficient evidence that doing so will advance the public good.

A verbal order explaining why releasing the information will benefit the general public interest may be used to release the information to the applicant. However, analysts say that section 8.1(j), which is one of the most often exploited aspects of the legislation, is used to deny around a third of all RTI requests.

Section 8.1 of the Data Protection Bill, which the government shared with the public on Friday, would be significantly amended (j).

The draft stated that the phrase “the disclosure of which is unrelated to any public interest or activity, or which would result in an unwarranted invasion of the privacy of the individual, unless the central public information officer, the State Public Information Officer or the Appeals Chamber competent authority, as the case may be, is satisfied that the general public interest justifies the disclosure of such information” should be deleted.

Therefore, “information that relates to personal information” would replace “information” under the new exception in section 8.1(j).

Although the proposed data law claims this is necessary for “consistency”, experts have warned it could serve as a cover for dishonest authorities.

Shailesh Gandhi, a right to information supporter, called the idea the NDA administration’s move to undermine the legislation. Gandhi said the exclusions were “entirely redacted” to give the public accurate information and that the current administration had only changed the sections relating to the status and modalities of the information commissions.

“Removing section 8.1(j) will undermine the law and benefit those facing corruption charges. All information that can be linked to a person may be rejected if this change is made.

Since most information is personal, public information officers (PIOs) who do not want to provide information would have the legal right to refuse, he claimed.

As this subject would be covered by the new Bill, the Data Protection Bill also calls for the repeal of Section 43A of the Information Technology Act, which deals with compensation for data protection.