Personal Data Protection Bill passed with amendments | Daily News

Personal Data Protection Bill passed with amendments

The Personal Data Protection Bill was passed in Parliament yesterday with amendments. The Personal Data Protection Bill intends to provide for the Regulation of Processing of Personal Data; to identify and strengthen the Rights of Data Subjects in relation to the protection of Personal Data; to provide for the designation of the Data Protection Authority; and to provide for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.

Accordingly, the Second Reading of the Personal Data Protection Bill was taken up for debate during yesterday’s Parliamentary sitting.

There is no ‘perfect’ law, Justice Minister Ali Sabry PC said making his closing remarks at the Second Reading of the Personal Data Protection Bill which was taken up for debate in Parliament yesterday.

“We have not adopted a confrontational attitude. The fact that we are moving a number of Committee stage amendments including establishing the Data Protection Authority itself giving specific powers, restrictions as well as qualifications shows that we are willing to listen. But, we all know that there is nothing called a ‘perfect law’. If you wait for that perfect law, just like you waited for that last parliament for the PTA and the Counter Terrorism Law, it will never come. So therefore, let us take this and move on,”he urged.

He also noted that most of the concerns that were expressed yesterday were unfounded. “With due respect, I don’t think there is anything called journalists rights. The journalists’ rights and the people’s rights are one and the same.”

He said that journalists do not have special rights but they do have a certain number of privileges. Reading a quote from the judgement of the case Victor Ivan Vs Sarath N Silva he read, “The freedom of the press is not a distinct fundamental right, but it is part of the freedom of speech and expression, including publication Article 14 (1)(A) has entrenched for everyone alike. It surely allows the pen of the journalist to be used as a mighty sword to rip open the façade which hides misconduct and corruption, but it’s a two-edged weapon which must be wielded with care not to wound the innocent while exposing the guilty.”

Sabry noted that journalists cannot be given something that they are not entitled to specifically and then make use of it in a manner which is currently being used by many. Hence, he said that restrictions are vital and unlimited freedoms cannot be given as it could be misused. He said that if it is used Bona fide, there are enough exemptions in the bill.

He said that the bill clearly specifies the freedom of expression and added that the Opposition had not properly read and studied the Bill prior to joining the debate and commenting on it. “The freedom of expression entrenched in the Constitution itself is protected.”

However, he noted that the right to information per se has limitations. “This is not a new position and most of us know that.”

He also said that the right to privacy is prevalent in Sri Lanka’s laws.

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