Context: India’s upcoming technology regulations are back in focus with new ministers taking charge at the ministry of electronics and information technology (Meity).

What tech regulations is India working on?

  • With the IT rules out of the way, India has three big technology regulations in the works. These include:
    • Personal Data Protection (PDP) Bill: 
      • It is akin to the European General Data Privacy Regulation and will set the stage for how big technology firms operate in the country.  
    • National Cybersecurity Strategy: 
      • With 80 deliverables that provide for data security and may also have an impact on the country’s telecom sector. 
    • Cryptocurrency bill: 
      • It regulates the future of digital currencies in the country. 
      • The cryptocurrency bill may also set the framework for a central bank digital currency in India.

Status of these regulations:

  • A draft of the PDP Bill was seen in 2019. 
    • A Data Protection Authority will be formed and will take steps to protect the interest of individuals in India, according to the draft. 
    • But the bill has been criticized for possibly bestowing too much power on government agencies, which could be misused. 
  • The finance minister has stated that the government will take a “calibrated” approach to crypto, though fears remain that the upcoming bill might ban crypto trading in India.

When could these rules be introduced?

  • The IT rules are already in effect, but the other three are yet to come. 
  • National cybersecurity  coordinator has stated that the cyber-security  strategy will be  introduced later in 2021. 
  • The finance minister has stated that the cabinet note for the crypto bill is ready, raising expectations that it will be tabled in the monsoon session of Parliament. 
  • A parliamentary panel had been deliberating on the PDP Bill for a long time and had asked for an extension during the budget session in March. 
    • It received the extension till the monsoon session.

Impact of Cabinet reshuffle:

  • Many industry experts say the cabinet reshuffle may be a good thing for the future of regulations. 
  • The new IT minister is an alumnus of IIT Kanpur (having some technical background). 
    • It is believed that his first task would be to ease the tensions between the Union government and big technology companies.

Is the internet the only part of India’s tech regulations?

  • India has also been trying to attract electronics manufacturers to India. 
    • It has already introduced production-linked incentive (PLI) schemes for mobile and IT hardware manufacturing and is working on a plan to attract semiconductor and display manufacturers to India. 
    • These could significantly impact the exports of electronic goods.

Related Facts:

National Cybersecurity Policy 2020:

  • The genesis of the existing policy - India’s first - released in 2013 lies in the allegations by Edward Snowden that NSA surveillance was also tracking India’s domestic issues.
    • The National Cyber Security Strategy 2020 (NCSS 2020): Overseen by the National Security Council Secretariat, collected public comments. 
    • Tensions with China: As it plays out in a technological battleground, a new cybersecurity policy would replace the present one.
    • These frameworks will have a bearing on incidents similar to the hacking of 121 Indians’ WhatsApps in 2019 by the Isreali cyber firm NSO Group.
  • Need for a new policy:
    • New technologies: The present cyber threat landscape poses significant challenges due to rapid technological developments such as Cloud Computing, Artificial Intelligence, internet of Things, 5G, etc. 
    • New challenges: Include data protection/privacy, law enforcement in evolving cyberspace, access to data stored overseas, misuse of social media platforms, international cooperation on cybercrime & cyber terrorism, etc.
  • Present Government Initiatives: