Industry welcomes Personal Data Protection Bill, says good news for marketers  

According to experts, marketers can still target their audience but with the right tools; customers to get the power of opting for ads relevant to them   

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Updated: Dec 12, 2019 4:50 PM

The introduction of the Personal Data Protection Bill in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday has been welcomed by experts from the advertisement and digital fraternity alike. According to industry heads, marketers can still target their audience but with the right tools allowing customers to see only the ads relevant to them.  

Talking about data privacy from India’s point of view, Anand Chakravarthy, Managing Director, Essence India, says: “If you look at what is happening globally there is no doubt data privacy is taking the centre stage in the digital world. In a digitized economy like India where more and more people are getting online and a huge chunk of their private data through browsing, content consumption, internet banking etc is online, it is the right time to introduce the bill.”

Marketers, according to Chakravarthy, can now use tools that allow them to use data in a way to target customers while still abiding by the laws. “Google, for instance, has a product called Ads Data Hub, which is one such product, which allows you to still work within the law and compliance. Without violating anybody's personal data it can aggregate and provide data insights, so that you can actually use the data more effectively for marketing. Using data to target consumers is useful for consumers because they want to see advertising that's relevant to them. It will all become easier with these tools.”

Elaborating on how the bill will actually help marketers, Krish Ramnani, Co-founder and Director of Technology and Innovation, Togglehead, says: “As far as advertising is concerned, this bill seems to be a positive step as this protection may generate qualitative and consensual data from users. The industry will see an improvement in getting a target audience as brands will be able to pin down an intended customer. This is an advantage as it plays on the consumer sentiment of “ads that I want to see”.

Apart from data privacy and staying compliant, the bill is a step further in increasing customer experience online and not just commoditized as a mere data point, Ramnani added.

Using the right technology though is undoubtedly a solution that experts across sectors recommend. “Companies will have to take a relook at their current data governance processes and invest in the right technologies to stay ahead of this crucial change,” said Rajib Basu, Partner – Entertainment and Media, PwC India.

Technology bodies are of the opinion that the bill should be up for changes as per recommendations by stakeholders.

Welcoming the move, Neena Dasgupta, CEO and Director, Zirca Digital Solutions, said: “India is adding more and more online users year on year, which generates data in leap folds, some of which even users are not aware of where, how and why it is being processed or used for. This is a great step thinking towards privacy and safety of personal data. Data Protection Bill should definitely lay down the foundation stone to protect Indian user data.”   

Kumar Deep Banerjee, Country Manager at ITI council, said, “ITI has always called for  wider consultation, especially on new clauses introduced in the Personal Data Protection Bill 2019. We are sure the select parliamentary committee, now constituted to take a closer look at the bill, will also be open to wider stakeholder consultation. This is likely to provide a deeper insight on definitions of data, consent, obligations penalties etc as mentioned in the bill. ITI encourages innovation and growth friendly legislation for economy.”

Basu also doesn’t rule out more changes to the bill. “Overall, the draft bill seems to be a step forward towards developing a robust data privacy framework for India. There are several stringent provisions in the bill. Interpretations relating to certain provisions and subsequent compliance requirements will emerge in the near term,” he said.

Considering that Right To Privacy is a fundamental right, redefining of digital governance was only expected, says Himanka Das, CEO, Vizeum India. However, according to Das, while the Personal Data Protection Bill (PDPB) has been drafted on the lines of European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), it needs close scrutiny considering the India’s digital economy. The bill is more of a regulation, he says.

“While it is been termed as Personal Data Protection Bill (PDPB), I interpret it as a regulation rather than protection in the right context,” Das added.

Breaking down how the bill will work and its impact on social media platforms, Atul Pandey, Partner at Khaitan & Co said, “Depending on the nature of the data being collected, the bill sets out rules as to where the data can be processed from and stored, and requires sensitive data to be stored in India while permitting such data to be processed outside India with the explicit consent of the user. However, critical data has to be stored and handled only in India. The push for data localisation stems from the recent privacy concerns surrounding WhatsApp, and the desire of the government to suitably monetise the vast amounts of data being collected in India.”

However, such data localisation measures will certainly act as a substantial financial constraint for companies considering that fresh infrastructure will be required to be set up in India, Pandey said.  

“Additionally, the government will also be wary of possible reciprocal actions being undertaken by other countries, considering that companies based out of such countries will have to abide by data localisation laws in India,” he added.

Soham Bhagnari, Business Head - West, FoxyMoron, says: “Expect a lot of government services advertising to be data driven as the bill allows our central government direct access to data from Google or Facebook and other companies. It could also mean that data could be used in future to drive political agenda, campaigns and ideologies in a big way. Advertising will largely remain the same as users always had the option to limit data sharing with companies like Facebook and Google. Majority of sites on the internet ask for consent of users, before showing ads. The bill will surely drive more awareness around the rights of individual users and more people might opt out of sharing private data, but a large number of people also don’t mind if advertising is contextual and relevant."

“Data protection bill is a great initiative and marks our foray into a digitally mature nation. Yes, it will cause some hiccups for businesses that rely on data but civic responsibility comes first,” says Nihal Nambiar, AVP - Strategic Solutions, iProspect.

Social Media Intermediaries will now be treated as a Data Fiduciary under certain circumstances. The government’s intention behind treating them as Data Fiduciary is clearly to recognise such intermediaries as entities which are in possession of sensitive personal data. In addition, one of the unique steps that have been proposed in the Bill is the directive to social media intermediaries to create a mechanism to “enable users who register their service from India, or use their services in India to voluntarily verify their accounts”.

Social media giants, however, don’t consider the bill to pose any threat to their functioning in India.

Facebook that has been grabbing a handsome chunk of total digital ad bills in India and is credited with its “super-efficient targeting” also welcomed the move. “We welcome India’s efforts to frame data protection legislation. We believe that a data protection law will empower Indian users and boost India's fast growing digital economy. It will also encourage people to be privacy conscious and exercise greater privacy controls that are available to them. Protecting people's information is an important priority for us at Facebook. We will continue to work alongside governments and regulators to find the right solutions to safeguard users’ safety and security,” said a Facebook spokesperson.

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