Chief architect of India's data privacy law Justice BN Srikrishna has raised a red flag over the lack of a data regulator to oversee privacy concerns emanating from Reliance Jio-Facebook deal. Srikrishna says such a data deal happened 'precisely because there is no law'. Raising concern over the long-term strategy of the deal, Justice B N Srikrishna says, "It is a strategic investment. A strategic investment by definition means it is an investment intended to further the business interest of the investee as well as the investor".
The Jio-Facebook deal could place Facebook in the category of 'Partner'. A questionnaire to Reliance Jio is yet to elicit a response. The article will be updated once a response is received.
Justice Srikrishna also pointed out that Jio-FB deal raises two important issues. One around competition law, the other around data. Pointing out that existence of Competition Law in India ensures that a regulator is in place who, upon a compliant being made will investigate facts, will look into various aspects of the deal following due process of law and finally come out with a conclusion. However, with data, he says, "Without the Personal Data Protection (PDP) Act coming into force, where is the regulator?"
"Data regulation becomes a big issue there, because of absence of regulator. And the regulator is not there because there is no law in place," he says. He was speaking at a webinar hosted by Daksha fellowship on Data Governance and Democratic Ethos.
Earlier in April this year, Facebook made an equity investment of approximately $5.7 billion in Jio Platforms for a 9.99 percent stake with an early focus on leveraging the latter's e-commerce platform JioMart. In an interview to Business Today, Ajit Mohan, VP and Managing Director, Facebook India had said that the company continues to have an independent view (from Reliance) on a number of topics and data localisation is one of them. "But we also believe that unrestricted free flow of data is the bedrock of an open market, which has greatly contributed to India's technology boom so far. We hope the future data protection regime protects consumers and also boosts the ease of doing business in India," Mohan told BusinessToday.In.
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