The digital age has revolutionized how businesses collect, store, and utilize customer data. This data is vital for business operations, marketing campaigns, and product development. However, with this increased reliance on data comes a growing responsibility to protect the privacy of individuals. Data privacy regulations are constantly evolving, with 2024 witnessing significant developments, particularly in India. This guide provides a comprehensive overview of data privacy laws that businesses operating in India, or handling Indian user data, need to be aware of in 2024.

1. The Digital Personal Data Protection Act, 2023 (DPDP Act):

India's much-awaited data privacy legislation, the DPDP Act, came into effect in 2023. This act establishes a framework for the protection of personal data of individuals ("data principals") and empowers them with control over their information.

Key aspects of the DPDP Act for Businesses:

  • Applicability: The DPDP Act applies to the processing of "personal data" in digital form, which is data about an identifiable individual. This includes a wide range of information, from names and contact details to financial data, online identifiers, and even political opinions. Almost all businesses collecting digital data from Indian users will be subject to the Act.
  • Consent: A cornerstone of the DPDP Act is the requirement for verifiable consent from data principals for processing their personal data. This consent must be freely given, informed, and specific. Businesses must provide clear and accessible information about the data they collect, how it will be used, and the options available to data principals. The DPDP Act also mandates a higher standard of consent for sensitive personal data, such as religious beliefs or health information.
  • Reasonable Security Practices: Businesses (referred to as "data fiduciaries" under the Act) must implement reasonable security practices to protect personal data from unauthorized access, disclosure, use, or alteration. This includes measures like data encryption, access controls, regular security audits, and employee training on data security best practices. The DPDP Act empowers the Data Protection Board (DPB) to prescribe security standards that data fiduciaries must adhere to.
  • Data Processing Principles: The DPDP Act outlines several principles that data fiduciaries must follow when processing personal data. These principles are designed to ensure that data is handled in a fair, transparent, and accountable manner. Key principles include:
    • Purpose Limitation: Data can only be collected for specific, clearly defined purposes and cannot be used for any other purpose without fresh consent. Businesses must be clear about the intended purposes of data collection at the time of consent.
    • Data Minimization: Only the minimum amount of personal data necessary for the stated purpose should be collected and processed. Businesses should avoid collecting excessive data that is not essential for their operations.
    • Storage Limitation: Personal data can only be stored for as long as necessary to fulfil the purpose of collection or as required by law. Businesses must establish data retention policies and procedures for secure disposal of data that is no longer required.


  • Data Principal Rights: The DPDP Act grants data principals a range of rights, empowering them with greater control over their personal data. These rights include:
    • Right to Access: Data principals have the right to request a copy of their personal data held by a data fiduciary. Businesses must provide this information in a clear and accessible format within a prescribed timeframe.
    • Right to Rectification: Data principals have the right to request correction of inaccurate or incomplete personal data. Businesses must have procedures in place to handle such requests efficiently.
    • Right to Erasure (Right to be Forgotten): Under certain circumstances, data principals have the right to request the erasure of their personal data. This right may not apply if the data is required for compliance with legal obligations.
    • Right to Restrict Processing: Data principals can restrict the processing of their personal data in certain situations, such as when they object to the processing or while the accuracy of the data is being contested.
    • Right to Data Portability: Data principals have the right to receive their personal data in a structured, commonly used, and machine-readable format and to transmit it to another data fiduciary.
  • Data Breach Notification: In case of a data breach, data fiduciaries are obligated to notify the DPB and affected data principals within a prescribed timeframe (typically 72 hours). The notification must describe the nature of the breach, the categories of data affected, and the remedial measures taken.


Benefits of the DPDP Act for Businesses and Individuals

The Digital Personal Data Protection Act (DPDP Act) of India brings significant advantages for both businesses and individuals. Here's a breakdown of the key benefits:

For Businesses:

  • Enhanced Trust and Brand Reputation: By complying with the DPDP Act's data privacy principles, businesses demonstrate their commitment to responsible data handling. This fosters trust and strengthens brand reputation among customers who increasingly value data privacy.
  • Reduced Risk of Data Breaches: The Act's emphasis on robust security practices helps businesses minimize the risk of data breaches, which can be costly and reputational damaging. Implementing strong data security measures also protects businesses from regulatory fines under the DPDP Act.
  • Improved Data Governance: The DPDP Act encourages businesses to develop and implement data governance frameworks. This promotes better data management practices, leading to increased efficiency and reduced risk of non-compliance with other regulations that may govern specific data types.
  • Level Playing Field: The DPDP Act establishes a clear and consistent framework for data privacy across all industries. This creates a level playing field for businesses, fostering healthy competition and innovation within the digital economy.


For Individuals:

  • Greater Control Over Personal Data: The DPDP Act empowers individuals with a range of rights regarding their personal data. This allows them to control what data is collected, how it's used, and for how long it's retained. This increased control fosters a sense of privacy and security in the digital world.
  • Transparency and Accountability: Businesses are now required to be transparent about their data collection practices and the purposes for which data is used. This transparency empowers individuals to make informed decisions about how they interact with businesses online.
  • Improved Data Security: The DPDP Act's emphasis on data security safeguards the personal information of individuals. This reduces the risk of identity theft, misuse of data, and other privacy-related harms.
  • Stronger Grievance Redressal Mechanism: The DPDP Act establishes a mechanism for individuals to file complaints against businesses that violate their data privacy rights. This empowers individuals to seek redressal for any misuse of their personal data.

Overall, the DPDP Act aims to create a balanced ecosystem where businesses can thrive while individuals have greater control over their personal data and enjoy stronger privacy protections.

The new Digital Personal Data Protection Act (DPDP Act) of 2023 is here to empower you with control over your personal information. Let's break down how it works:

Transparency and Your Rights:

  • Companies that handle your data (data fiduciaries) can't just take it for granted. They need your explicit permission to process it and must clearly explain how they'll use it. This includes informing you about your right to complain if they mishandle your data.

Data Security and Breach Management:

  • Data fiduciaries have a responsibility to act as guardians of your information. This means taking reasonable security measures to prevent unauthorized access, accidental leaks, or other incidents that could compromise your data.
  • If a breach does occur, no matter how minor or seemingly insignificant, they are obligated to inform both you and the Data Protection Board of India (DPBI).

Grievance Redressal Mechanism:

  • The DPBI acts as a central body for addressing your concerns. If you feel a company has violated your data privacy rights or failed to meet its obligations under the Act, you can file a complaint with the DPBI.
  • Data fiduciaries are required to respond to your grievances within a set timeframe. However, before approaching the DPBI, you'll need to exhaust all internal complaint resolution channels offered by the company.

Investigative and Enforcement Powers of DPBI:

  • Once a case reaches the DPBI, they'll provide the company with an opportunity to be heard and present their side. Following this, the Board can issue binding directions to ensure compliance with the Act.
  • The DPBI also has the authority to investigate data breaches and impose penalties on companies found to be in violation. These penalties can be substantial, reaching up to ₹250 crore for each breach, with no upper limit on the total amount.
  • Determining the penalty amount considers various factors, including the severity and duration of the breach, the type of data affected, and whether the company took steps to mitigate the damage or prevent future occurrences.

Alternative Dispute Resolution and Compliance Measures:

  • The DPBI can also nudge both parties towards mediation as a way to resolve disputes collaboratively.
  • In some cases, the DPBI may accept a voluntary undertaking from the company, essentially a pledge to ensure future compliance with the Act. However, any failure to uphold this commitment will be considered a fresh breach.

Appellate Process:

  • If you disagree with the DPBI's decision, you have the right to appeal within 60 days to the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT). Their verdict can be further challenged in the Supreme Court. Similar to the DPBI, the TDSAT operates as a digital office with powers akin to a civil court.

The DPDP Act empowers you to take control of your personal information. It enforces accountability on companies handling your data and ensures they prioritize its security. This comprehensive framework provides a multi-layered approach to grievance redressal, empowering you to seek recourse in case of violations.

International Data Privacy Laws: A Kaleidoscope of Approaches

The global landscape of data privacy is a patchwork of regulations, reflecting the evolving nature of data and the varying priorities of different countries. Here's a glimpse into some prominent examples that showcase this diversity:

  • General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR): (Europe) A towering figure in data privacy, the GDPR sets a high bar for data protection. It grants individuals extensive rights, including access, rectification, erasure, and restriction of processing of their personal data. Organizations are subject to strict obligations, such as requiring clear and informed consent for data collection, implementing robust security measures, and conducting data protection impact assessments. The GDPR's extraterritorial reach extends to companies processing the data of individuals in the EU, regardless of the company's location, making it a significant force in shaping global data practices.
  • California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA): (USA) Taking a consumer-centric approach, the CCPA empowers Californians with control over their personal information. It compels businesses to disclose the categories of personal data they collect, use, and sell, and offers Californians the right to opt-out of the sale of their information. The CCPA also grants the right to access and delete personal data, fostering greater transparency and accountability for businesses handling Californian consumer data.
  • Brazil General Data Protection Law (LGPD): (South America) Sharing many similarities with the GDPR, the LGPD regulates how organizations handle personal data in Brazil. It emphasizes transparency, requiring organizations to inform individuals about data collection practices and purposes. Similar to the GDPR, individuals have rights to access, rectify, and erase their data. The LGPD also places emphasis on data security measures and accountability for organizations handling personal data.
  • Personal Information Protection Law (PIPL): (China) China's PIPL, enacted in 2021, takes a unique approach that balances data protection with national security concerns. It establishes a data classification system, with stricter requirements for handling sensitive personal data. The PIPL also mandates data localization for certain types of data, requiring them to be stored within China's borders. While individuals have rights to access and correct their data, these rights come with specific conditions compared to regulations like the GDPR.
  • Australia Privacy Act 1988 (APPs): (Australia) Australia's APPs focus on the core principles of fairness and transparency in data collection. Organizations must collect data in a lawful and fair manner, with clear and specific purposes communicated to individuals. The APPs require reasonable steps to be taken to protect personal data and provide individuals with rights to access and correct their information.
  • Japan Act on the Protection of Personal Information (APPI): (Asia) Japan's APPI centres on informed consent and purpose specification for data collection. Individuals must be informed about the data collected, the purpose of collection, and with whom the data will be shared, before they provide consent. The APPI mandates data security measures and sets forth individual rights for accessing and correcting personal information.

This selection highlights just a few examples, and the intricacies of each law can differ significantly. Some regions might have additional sector-specific regulations, such as healthcare data privacy laws, adding another layer of complexity. Staying up-to-date on the evolving data privacy landscape is crucial for organizations operating globally.

Article written by 

Tamjeed Ahmad, an intern at Corpzo