Today's Headlines

Today's Headlines - 08 August 2023

Personal Data Protection Bill, 2023 cleared

GS Paper - 2 (Polity)

The Lok Sabha on 7 August 2023 passed the Digital Personal Data Protection Bill, 2023, a first-ever legislation dedicated for digital privacy amid concerns of MPs regarding the removal of the data localisation mandate and increased government control.

More about the Bill

  • The Bill was passed with an amendment to a minor drafting error. Once the Bill comes into effect, all digital platforms will be required to obtain unconditional, free, specific, and informed consent from users for processing their data.
  • They will also need to issue a notice explaining the purpose of data processing and the rights of the users.
  • The government will appoint a data protection board, an independent body that will examine personal data breaches and impose penalties.
  • The latest version of the Bill does not mandate local storage of personal data, providing a major relief to big tech firms like Google, Meta, and Amazon.
  • The government may, however, notify a list of countries in future, where data cannot be transferred.
  • The Bill prescribes penalties of up to Rs 250 crore for each instance of a data breach arising from a lack of reasonable safeguards on platforms.
  • The government may block the operations of entities not complying with the law even after two instances of penalties. The draft Bill of the final version was released for public consultation in November 2022.

Models for data protection laws

The EU model:

  • The GDPR focuses on a comprehensive data protection law for the processing of personal data.
  • It has been criticised for being excessively stringent, and imposing many obligations on organisations processing data, but is the template for most of the legislation drafted around the world.
  • In the EU, the right to privacy is enshrined as a fundamental right that seeks to protect an individual’s dignity and her right over the data that she generates.

The US model:

  • Privacy protection is largely defined as a “liberty protection” — focused on the protection of the individual’s personal space from the government, and, therefore, is viewed as being somewhat narrow in focus by virtue of enabling the collection of personal information as long as the individual is informed of such collection and use. The US template has been viewed as inadequate in key respects of regulation.
  • Unlike the EU’s GDPR, there is no comprehensive set of privacy rights or principles that collectively address the use, collection and disclosure of data in the US. Instead, there is limited sector-specific regulation. The approach towards data protection in the US is different for the public and private sectors.

The China model:

  • New Chinese laws issued over the last 15 months on data privacy and security includes the Personal Information Protection Law (PIPL), which came into effect in November 2021. It gives Chinese data principal’s new rights as it seeks to prevent the misuse of personal data.
  • The Data Security Law (DSL), which came into force in September 2021, requires business data to be categorised by different levels of importance and puts new restrictions on cross-border transfers.
  • These regulations will have a significant impact on how companies collect, store, use and transfer data, but are essentially focused on giving the government overreaching powers to both collect data and regulate private companies that collect and process information.


Centre to look into ‘Havana Syndrome’

GS Paper - 3 (Health and Diseases)

The Central government has told the Karnataka High Court that it will look into the matter of the ‘Havana Syndrome’ in India, in response to a Bengaluru resident’s recent petition. The petitioner had approached the court requesting a writ of mandamus for an enquiry on Havana Syndrome in India and the prevention of high-frequency microwave transmission in India.

What is Havana Syndrome?

  • Havana Syndrome refers to a set of mental health symptoms that are said to be experienced by United States intelligence and embassy officials in various countries.
  • It is worth noting that in general, the word ‘syndrome’ simply means a set of symptoms. It does not mean a unique medical condition, but rather a set of symptoms that are usually experienced together whose origins may be difficult to confirm.
  • What is known as the Havana Syndrome typically involves symptoms such as hearing certain sounds without any outside noise, nausea, vertigo and headaches, memory loss and balance issues.
  • As the name suggests, it traces its roots to Cuba in late 2016. This was about a year after the US opened its embassy in the capital city of Havana after ties between the two countries were normalised in 2015.
  • Some US intelligence officials and members of the staff at the embassy began experiencing sudden bursts of pressure in their brains followed by persistent headachesfeelings of disorientation and insomnia.

Where else has Havana syndrome been reported?

  • Since the Cuban incident, American intelligence and foreign affairs officials posted in various countries have reported symptoms of the syndrome.
  • In early 2018, similar accusations began to be made by US diplomats in China. The first such report was in April 2018 at the Guangzhou consulate.
  • An American employee reported that he had been experiencing symptoms since late 2017. Another incident had previously been reported by a USAID employee at the US Embassy in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, in September 2017.
  • In 2019 and 2020, such incidents have been reported from within the US — particularly in Washington DC. One incident was even reported at The Ellipse, a lawn adjacent to the White House.
  • In India, the first such case was reported in the same year, when a US intelligence officer travelling to New Delhi with CIA director William Burns reported symptoms of Havana Syndrome.

What are the causes of Havana Syndrome?

  • No one is entirely sure. But initially during the Cuban experience, being in a country that had been hostile to the US for over five decades, the suspicion was on Cuban intelligence or a section within the Cuban establishment that did not want US-Cuba relations to normalise. It was then speculated to be a “sonic attack”.
  • However, further study by scientists in the US and medical examination of the victims began to suggest that they may have been subjected to high-powered microwaves that either damaged or interfered with the nervous system.


Chandrayaan enters moon orbit

GS Paper - 3 (Space Technology)

TWENTY-THREE days after it left earth, Chandrayaan-3, aiming to become the first Indian spacecraft to make a soft landing on the moon, entered lunar orbit, completing another milestone in its journey. This means that the spacecraft which had been moving towards the moon for the last five days — since it emerged out of its earth-bound orbit — has now begun to circle around the moon.

More about the Mission

  • MOX, ISTRAC, this is Chandrayaan-3. I am feeling lunar gravity, said ISRO, putting words to what must only be an electronic signal from the spacecraft to the Mission Operations Complex (MOX) at the ISRO Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network (ISTRAC).
  • As of now, the spacecraft is in an elliptical orbit around the moon, that is 18,074 km from the lunar surface at its farthest and 164 km at the nearest.
  • This orbit altitude would be lowered progressively over the next few days, ultimately achieving a circular orbit of 100 km x 100 km, from which a final descent on the lunar surface is planned around 23 August 2023.
  • This is the third time that an Indian spacecraft has entered lunar orbit. The previous two Chandrayaan missions had also reached this phase.


  • Chandrayaan-1 was only meant to be an orbiter, it did send out an instrument called Moon Impact Probe to crash land on the lunar surface.
  • Chandrayaan-2 was supposed to make a soft landing but could not, faltering in the last few seconds of its journey.
  • Chandrayaan-3 has taken slightly less time to reach the lunar orbit compared to Chandrayaan-2, which reached this destination in 30 days. But Chandrayaan-3 will spend more time in the lunar orbit, before attempting the soft landing.
  • If the soft landing is successful, it will make India the fourth country in the world to do so after the US, Russia and China.
  • Chandrayaan-3 is attempting to become the first mission to land near the lunar south pole. Other missions have so far landed close to the moon’s equator.

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