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New Delhi Correspondent

India on Friday moved a step closer to its first data protection law when a committee set up by the federal government submitted a report proposing that citizens must come at the top of such privacy, setting up of a data protection authority, imposing strict terms for storage of data in the country and making individual consent mandatory for data-sharing and awards rights to users of data.

The report by the committee, set up in July last year with former Supreme Court judge, Justice B N Srikrishna as its head, was submitted to the government on Friday comes at a time when the Indian Supreme Court has held back its judgment on a bunch of petitions challenging the validity of the Aadhaar multipurpose ID system.

The report sets the stage for the government’s Data Protection Act, said Indian Law and Justice and Electronics and Information Technology Ravi Shankar Prasad said while receiving the committee’s report.

Prasad said the report will be sent for inter-ministerial consultations and cabinet and parliamentary approval. “It is a monumental law and we would like to have widest parliamentary consultation…We want Indian data protection law to become a model globally, blending security, privacy, safety and innovation,” he added.

Speaking to reporters after submitting the report, Justice Srikrishna said there were three aspects to the committee’s report. “Citizens must come at the top. The interest of the citizen must be protected at any cost. Simultaneously, the state has some responsibilities and finally the protection cannot be at the cost of trade and industry,” he said.

The committee acknowledged existing laws in India did not provide protection to individual data privacy and pointed to the recent instance of the social media platform Facebook sharing of the data of 87 million people, including five million Indians, with Cambridge Analytica.