Hyderabad: India has been looking at initiating strong measures to prevent misuse of personal data. An enactment for protection of data privacy was long due and now it is almost certain that the Personal Data Protection Bill (PDP Bill) will be tabled in the parliament for consideration in the ongoing budget session. Experts say that the US and India can work together in continuing to create an integrated and synergistic digital ecosystem in the changing data regulatory and policy landscape.
Speaking at International Privacy Forum conducted by the US India Business Council (USIBC) in association with the US Chamber of Commerce and Government of Telangana at ISB, Jayesh Ranjan, principal secretary, Industries & Commerce and IT Department, Government of Telangana, said, “The nation has seen incidents of fake news that have led to adverse consequences. During national elections, there was social data breach. Such incidents cannot be ignored. So, data regulations need to be in place. Europe and China have brought in data regulations already. India while it readies to roll out regulations, ease of compliance needs should be looked at, particularly keeping in mind the startups.”
Speaking of opportunities and infrastructure readiness, Ranjan said, Central government’s proposed data localisation norms will drive demand for data centres. Hyderabad for instance is receiving a lot of investor interest in creating data centres. Telangana government is talking to 3-4 companies at present, which are looking for land, government and infrastructure support to create data centres.
“Data localisation law if becomes an Act, will open up many opportunities,” he said.
Indian government is making sure that digital economy is not affected by any roadblocks or factors that can slowdown the growth. Ranjan added, “Talangana government is sharing inputs and suggestions for the national policies that are focused on data protection and localisation, after discussing with multiple stakeholders including the industry.”
Norms for growth
Katherine Hadda, US Consul General, Hyderabad, US Department of State, said, “US has a huge presence in India and companies that use IT. US companies had also been operating in large numbers in Hyderabad. There are 130 US companies operating in Hyderabad. Not only the US and India are connected but the whole world is connected digitally. Data flow has become the lifeblood of the global information economy. Crossborder information network has grown 45 times since 2005 and is expected to grow nine times over the next five years as flow of information continues to surge.”
Data flows account for $2.8 trillion of GDP. Crossborder dataflows now generate more economic value than traditional flow of trading goods. Trade was once open to advanced economies and large multinationals, but digital form of globalisation has opened the doors for developing economies and small companies as well as startups. Tens and millions of small businesses have become exporters by joining e-commerce marketplaces.
She added, right now 12 per cent of global business is done by e-commerce companies. And these companies will grow if the conditions are right. Smallest enterprises can today be born global and they can compete with multinationals. The next phase of business growth will depend on the ability to move data seamlessly across reasonably open and un-fragmented internet. The unchecked accumulation of blockages to data flows can greatly diminish the prospects of evolution of the digital economy. However, there is a need to have transparency on how data is transferred internationally and for greater interoperability among the regulatory institutions.
Forcing concentration of data storage in single or limited locations is contrary to the accepted information security protocols, which may have the effect of weakening information security. Localisation is not security and the security of the data depends less on the location but on legal and technical safeguards surrounding it. Studies also suggest that data localisation requirements are prohibitive and there will be great revenue leakages during the transition from an existing system to a new system. “When a government builds barriers to protect companies, consumers suffer, growth stagnates and the whole country lags behind from the rest of the world,” she pointed out.
ISB, professor of Finance, Bhagwan Chowdhry, opined, data policies or laws should ensure that no single company gets monopoly or undue advantage.