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Home arrow News arrow Govt. levys, taxes and budget arrow Ensure Confidentiality of sensitive corporate information collected: CII
Ensure Confidentiality of sensitive corporate information collected: CII Print E-mail
Written by Ganesh   
Monday, 31 December 2007
New Delhi: The Collection of Statistics Bill, 2007 moved to replace the Collection of Statistics Act, 1953, empowers the government to seek sensitive corporate data. An informant asked to furnish any information under the provisions of the Act shall be bound to furnish such information. Moreover, the Bill provides that the statistics officer or any person authorised by him in writing may enter any premises for the purposes of collection of statistics and may inspect and take copies of it.

 

The Bill has drawn concerns from the industry since it provides extensive areas in which information can be collected. The power to collect information should be amplified through guidelines to include the communication of purpose behind collecting information. The guidelines should also limit the collection to macro level information and exclude confidential information, personal identifiable information, sensitive industry or competitive information, third party information and economic value attached information. In cases where corporates are bound under confidentiality agreements with outside parties, or in case of price-sensitive information that cannot be disclosed before making a disclosure to the stock exchange under the Listing Agreement, corporates should be entitled to seek additional time to submit the requisite information.

Formal request for collection of information should be made in writing since other methods are unreliable and can be misused by unscrupulous elements unless stringent safeguards/controls are also prescribed to ensure authenticity/confidentiality. Sufficient time should be given for submission of such information and an extreme step like entering the premises should be backed by justifiable reasons and may be resorted to only when information required has not been submitted even after a reasonable time has elapsed.  

Government should not outsource the collection of statistical information, being sensitive information, to any agency without prescribing adequate safeguards and governance process and liability/ responsibilities of such agency in the event of misuse or breach of information/confidentiality.

Appropriate Government as proposed in the Bill should be limited to government at the Central and State level and not include its instrumentality like Panchayats or Municipalities. This is necessary to ensure control over confidential/ sensitive information and avoid misuse of information.

Publication of information must be permitted only after obtaining a Court order to that effect, after an opportunity of hearing to informant. A Right to Appeal mechanism against requisition of information should be provided for within the Act.  

A specific provision that even by filing an application under Right to Information Act such information cannot be obtained by any third person must be incorporated to secure confidentiality.

 
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