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September 28, 2023
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 min read

What is the Digital Personal Data Protection Act 2023?

Navigate India's DPDP Act of 2023 with ease. Learn key provisions, compare them with existing laws, and discover how SaaS companies can comply with the act.

What is the Digital Personal Data Protection Act 2023?
Calendar Icon White
September 28, 2023
Clock Icon
 min read

What is the Digital Personal Data Protection Act 2023?

Navigate India's DPDP Act of 2023 with ease. Learn key provisions, compare them with existing laws, and discover how SaaS companies can comply with the act.



  • The DPDP Act of 2023 serves as India's comprehensive framework for safeguarding personal data
  • The Act fills the gaps left by India's previous data protection regulations, aligning more closely with international standards like GDPR.
  • The Act outlines lawful data processing, individual rights, and duties for data handlers, affecting consumers, businesses, and government agencies alike.
  • Strac offers a suite of features, from instant detection to data redaction, helping businesses align with the stringent standards set by the DPDP Act.

Protecting data has become more essential than ever. A stark reminder of this vulnerability came in December 2019, when Microsoft exposed a database containing 250 million customer service records. This incident alone proved that the pipelines to secure data are getting more complex. 

Governments worldwide are enacting laws and regulations to secure digital data. One such groundbreaking legislation is India's Digital Personal Data Protection Act of 2023, commonly known as the DPDP Act. This act serves as a comprehensive framework for data protection, setting new standards for how personal information should be handled, stored, and processed. 

In this guide, we will traverse through the intricacies of this law to be better equipped with the standards of DPDP.

An Overview of the Digital Personal Data Protection (DPDP) Act of India

The Data Protection Act India, initially proposed as the Digital Personal Data Protection Bill, serves as a comprehensive framework for safeguarding personal data in India. It aims to balance the privacy rights of individuals with the data needs of businesses and government agencies. 

The act outlines specific responsibilities for those who handle data, known as "data fiduciaries." It establishes the rights of the individuals to whom the data belongs, referred to as "data subjects."

DPDP vs. Existing Indian Data Protection Regulations

Before introducing the Digital Personal Data Protection (DPDP) Act of 2023, India primarily relied on the Information Technology Act of 2000 (IT Act) for data loss prevention.

The IT Act was initially designed to safeguard e-commerce transactions and define cybercrime offenses. However, it did not adequately address the nuances of the current cybersecurity landscape or data privacy rights. The IT Act underwent several amendments, but it still fails to address the escalating sophistication and the rising rate of cyber-attacks adequately. 

Because of these limitations, in August 2022, the Indian Parliament passed the Digital Personal Data Protection Act, which regulates how companies can collect, store, and process personal data. 

The DPDP Act is considered a precursor to the proposed Digital India Act, which is yet to be formally published. The new Digital India Act, of which the DPDP will later become a part, aims to act as a catalyst for the Indian economy by enabling innovation while providing citizens with safety, trust, and accountability.

The DPDP Act not only addresses the limitations of the IT Act but also aligns India's data protection laws with international standards, making it a crucial piece of legislation for the digital age. 

Here are some of the components that led to the passing of the Digital Personal Data Protection bill.

Exemptions for Government Bodies

One of the motivations behind the DPDP Act was to provide certain exemptions like national security, law enforcement, and public safety for government bodies, allowing them to process data without the same level of scrutiny that private organizations face. This has been a point of contention but is seen as necessary for national security and public interest.

Limited Individual Rights

The DPDP Act does not provide individual rights like data portability and the right to be forgotten, unlike international standards like the GDPR. This limitation is likely a compromise to balance the needs of businesses and government agencies with individual rights.

Short Appointment Term for Board Members

The Digital Data Protection Act of India specifies a two-year term of appointment for Data Protection Board members, with re-appointment eligibility. This relatively short tenure ensures that the board remains agile and can adapt to the rapidly changing technological landscape.

The Role of the Central Government

The Central Government plays a significant role in the DPDP Act, including the power to exempt government agencies from certain provisions. Specifically, the government can exempt any agency if it is in the interest of India's sovereignty and integrity, the state's security, friendly relations with foreign states, or public order. This centralization aims to provide a unified approach to data protection nationwide.

Concerns About Unchecked and Arbitrary Rule-Making

While the DPDP Act aims to provide a comprehensive framework for data protection, it has also raised concerns about the potential for unchecked and arbitrary rule-making by the Central Government. These concerns highlight the need for checks and balances to ensure the act serves the public interest without compromising individual rights.

What are the Key Provisions of the DPDP Act?

The Digital Personal Data Protection (DPDP) Act of 2023 introduces several key provisions that set the groundwork for a robust data protection ecosystem, including standards similar to HIPAA for healthcare data.

1. Lawful Grounds for Data Processing

The Digital Data Protection Act of India specifies that personal data can only be collected and processed if there is explicit consent from the data subject or if the data is necessary to perform a contract or other specified lawful purposes. 

This ensures that data subjects are well-informed and have consented to processing their data, thereby enhancing transparency and accountability.

2. Rights of the Data Principal

The DPDP Act empowers individuals, referred to as "data principals," by granting them several rights concerning their personal data. These rights include:

  • The right to access: Data principals have the right to access and obtain a copy of their personal data.
  • The right to correction: Individuals can correct inaccuracies in their personal data.
  • The right to erasure: Under certain conditions, data principals can request the deletion of their personal data.

These rights aim to give individuals greater control over their personal data, aligning with global data protection standards.

3. Duties of the Data Fiduciary

The DPDP Act imposes several duties on the "data fiduciaries," or the entities responsible for processing personal data, including:

  • Data minimization: Data fiduciaries must only collect data that is necessary for the purposes for which it is being processed.
  • Data quality: They are responsible for ensuring the accuracy and quality of the data.
  • Data security: Robust security measures must be in place to protect the data from unauthorized access and breaches. 

This is where solutions like Strac can be invaluable. Strac offers advanced DLP features like real-time monitoring and automated data redaction, making it a go-to solution for DPDP Act compliance.

Explore Strac Data Loss Prevention for SaaS & Gen AI

4. Role of the Data Protection Board of India

The DPDP Act establishes the Data Protection Board of India as the regulatory authority responsible for overseeing compliance with the Act. The board can issue guidelines, conduct investigations, and impose penalties for violations. 

Its role is crucial in ensuring that both data fiduciaries and data principals know their rights and responsibilities under the Act, thereby fostering a culture of data protection in India.

5. Extraterritorial Application

GDPR and DPDP are similar, considering extraterritorial application. 

GDPR’s extraterritorial applicability affects companies that process the data of EU residents, even if the company is not based within the EU.

Similarly, the Digital Personal Data Protection (DPDP) Act of 2023 has an impact extending beyond India's geographical boundaries. This extraterritorial application is one of the Act's most notable features, affecting not just Indian companies but also international organizations that process Indian residents’ data.

However, there are some differences between the two:

  • Consent Requirements: Both the DPDP Act and GDPR require explicit consent for data processing, but the GDPR has more stringent requirements for what constitutes "informed consent."
  • Data Subject Rights: While both acts provide rights like data access, correction, and erasure, the GDPR offers additional rights like data portability and the right to object to data processing.
  • Regulatory Oversight: Both acts establish a regulatory body for oversight (Data Protection Board of India for the DPDP Act and various Data Protection Authorities for the GDPR). However, the GDPR has been in operation longer and has a more established framework for enforcement.
  • Penalties: Both acts have provisions for penalties in case of violations, but the Both acts have provisions for penalties in case of violations. The GDPR's fines can go up to 4% of the company's annual global turnover or €20 million, whichever is higher. On the other hand, the DPDP Act proposes a maximum fine of ₹250 crore and a minimum of ₹50 crore for violations, including the possibility of blocking the platform.

What Sectors and Domains are Affected by DPDP?

The Data Protection Act India, through the DPDP Act, has wide-ranging implications affecting individual consumers, business entities, and government organizations.

  • Impact on Individual Consumers: The Act gives individuals more control over their personal data, enhancing their privacy and security in the digital world.
  • Repercussions for Business Entities, Particularly Startups: Businesses, especially startups, face new compliance challenges that may require investment in data protection mechanisms. However, compliance can help them build a competitive advantage.
  • Implications for Governmental Organizations: While there is some flexibility for national security and public interest matters, governmental organizations must also adhere to the Act's data protection guidelines.

How Can SaaS Companies Stay Under the Standards of DPDP?

DPDP Act's standards are not just a legal requirement for SaaS companies; it's also a strategic move to build customer trust and ensure long-term business sustainability. The compliance checklist can guide SaaS companies in aligning with the DPDP Act.

  • Data Mapping: Understand what kind of data you are collecting and for what purposes. Ensure that you have lawful grounds for data processing.
  • User Consent: Implement mechanisms to obtain explicit consent from users before collecting and processing their data.
  • Data Minimization: Collect only the data that is necessary for the purposes you have stated.
  • Data Security: Invest in robust security measures to protect data from unauthorized access and data breaches.
  • Transparency: Clearly communicate your data processing practices to users, ideally through an easily accessible privacy policy.
  • Data Subject Rights: Enable features that allow users to access, correct, or delete their data.
  • Regular Audits: Conduct regular data protection audits to ensure ongoing compliance.
  • Data Protection Officer: Consider appointing a Data Protection Officer to oversee compliance.

Besides this compliance checklist, ensure having a sensitive data catalog and DLP Security Checklist to maintain compliance with the Digital Personal Data Protection bill.

Potential Challenges and How to Overcome Them

  • Cost of Compliance: Implementing robust data protection measures can be costly. 

To mitigate this challenge of compliance cost, Strac offers robust data loss prevention features at a reasonable cost, making it easier for companies to comply with data protection regulations.

  • Technical Complexity: Adhering to the DPDP Act may require changes to your software architecture. Plan for this in your development cycles.
  • Legal Nuances: The DPDP Act has specific requirements that may differ from other international data protection laws. Consult legal experts familiar with Indian data protection laws to ensure full compliance.
  • User Education: Users may not be fully aware of their rights under the DPDP Act. Use in-app guides or FAQs to educate them.

Future Outlook of the Bill

As with any legislation, the Data Protection Act India is expected to evolve to meet the changing landscape of data protection and technology. Here's a glimpse into what the future may hold for this Act.

1. Potential Amendments and Updates

Given the rapid technological advancements and the ever-changing nature of cyber threats, the DPDP Act will likely undergo amendments and updates. These could range from tightening consent requirements to introducing new categories of sensitive personal data. 

2. The Role of the Appellate Tribunal

The DPDP Act provides for the establishment of an Appellate Tribunal to hear appeals against the decisions of the Data Protection Board of India. This tribunal will play a significant role in shaping the Act's interpretation and enforcement. Its decisions could set important precedents influencing India's data protection practices and policies.

3. Future Challenges and Opportunities

It's important to recognize that the DPDP Act will face new challenges and opportunities in a rapidly evolving digital landscape.

  • Data Localization may require companies to store data within India. This could pose logistical and cost challenges, especially for smaller businesses and startups.
  • Global Alignment: As other countries update their data protection laws, aligning the DPDP Act with international standards will be both a challenge and an opportunity.
  • Technological Advancements like Artificial Intelligence or generative AI and the Internet of Things (IoT) will present new challenges in data protection, requiring ongoing updates to the Act.
  • Public Awareness: One of the opportunities lies in educating the public about their rights under the DPDP Act, which could lead to more responsible data handling practices across the board.

How Can Strac Help Align With the DPDP Act?

Strac is a Data Loss Prevention (DLP) software designed to secure sensitive Personally Identifiable Information (PII) and Protected Health Information (PHI) across various SaaS applications. 

Strac can be your go-to resource for navigating the intricacies of the DPDP Act. Here's how it assists you in aligning with this act.

  • AI-Powered Instant Detection and Redaction: One of the challenges of data protection is ensuring that sensitive information is adequately safeguarded. Strac uses advanced AI algorithms, including its ChatGPT DLP integration, to instantly detect and redact PII and PHI.
Strac DLP SaaS integration
  • Tokenization: Strac allows for the tokenization of sensitive data, which means that the actual data is replaced with a token, making it more secure and compliant with data protection laws like the DPDP Act. 
Sensitive data tokenization
  • Continuous Scanning: The platform continuously scans for sensitive data, ensuring ongoing compliance with stringent regulatory and compliance standards, including the DPDP Act.
Schedule a Demo to integrate Strac Data Loss Prevention now!

Founder, Strac. ex-Amazon Payments Infrastructure (Widget, API, Security) Builder for 11 years.

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