The Shortcomings of India's Digital Personal Data Protection Bill for Minor Internet Users

India’s draft Digital Personal Data Protection (DPDP) Bill, 2022 has sparked discussions on the issue of online safety for minors and the responsibilities of platforms towards their young users. The Bill currently requires mandatory parental consent for all data processing activities for children under 18 years of age. However, this approach is flawed as it does not effectively address the safety of minors online and does not take into account the “best interests of the child.”

Gaps in the Bill

  • First, the Bill places the responsibility of protecting children solely on the shoulders of parents by requiring their consent for all data processing activities. This approach is ineffective in a country with low digital literacy, where parents often rely on their children to navigate the internet.
  • Second, the Bill does not consider the importance of the internet in the personal development and self-expression of teenagers. The internet is a crucial tool for adolescents, from taking music lessons to preparing for exams and forming communities with like-minded individuals. While the Bill allows for exemptions in the future, it does not acknowledge the blurred lines between different platforms and their uses.

Use of Personal Data

  • Another issue with the DPDP Bill is the requirement for platforms to obtain ‘verifiable parental consent’ for minors. This means that platforms will have to verify the age of every user, leading to an increase in personal data management and a greater risk of data breaches and identity thefts.

Recommendations

  • To address these shortcomings, it is recommended that a risk-based approach be adopted for platform obligations. Platforms should be mandated to undertake a risk assessment for minors and design services with default settings and features that protect children from harm. Additionally, the age of mandatory parental consent should be relaxed to 13 years, in line with other jurisdictions around the world. This would minimize data collection and reduce the potential for harm to minors.

Synopsis

India’s draft DPDP Bill raises important questions about the safety and rights of minor internet users. While the intention of the Bill is to protect children’s data, it does not effectively address the issues at hand. A shift in approach is needed to ensure that children are protected online while also allowing for their personal development and self-expression through the use of the internet.

Written by IAS POINT

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply