The government in FY23 Budget has proposed to introduce section 135AA in the customs act through the finance bill for “protection of data”. The proposed bill makes publishing of details linked to value, classification or quantity of individual export and import of items a punishable offence, which can lead to six months of jail or a fine of RS 50, 000 or both.
The step is intended at plugging the leak of sensitive data and ensuring privacy of transactions entered into by exporters and importers.
The bill makes it clear that nothing in the proposed new section applies to any publication made by or on behalf of the central government. According to the bill’s explanation, the term “publishes” includes reproducing information in printed or electronic form and making it available to the public.
The demand was made by the trade bodies as the commercially sensitive data was being published by some websites and publications.
The Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) tweeted, “The proposed clause will only criminalise the illicit publication of personalised, transaction level information by private entities, which affects the competitive position of Indian business in international trade and compromises their data privacy.”