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Google won't share user data with governments without permission, says Thomas Kurian

BusinessToday.In     April 19, 2019

Data is fuel for our information-led economy and everyone wants it, be it the companies or the governments. However, search giant, Google has said that it won't give away users' data or allow governments anywhere to have access to it. The statement assumes significance at a time when more and more countries, including India, want the global tech giant to share the data and store the information on its users locally.

"We never will, even if we get a request from a government for us to hand the customer data to the government. We will not do that. We will ask the company that owns the data for permission and tell the government to talk to the company," said Thomas Kurian, CEO of Google Cloud as per The Economic Times. These rules apply also for the artificial intelligence models built using Google Cloud, he added.

Indian government has already stated that it wants all the data related to the payments systems, including Google Pay, to be stored in India to ensure better monitoring of payment service operators. The government has also asked for access to the stored data. The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology's draft IT (Intermediaries Guidelines) Rules, 2018 has also asked for the appointment of a nodal person of contact in India and alternate senior designated functionary for 24x7 coordination with the law enforcement agencies.

However, the Data Security Council of India (DSCI), part of lobby group Nasscom, said that storing information locally wasn't necessarily the key to ensuring safety. It reasoned that in a digital economy, India needs a regime that must allow free flow of data and also the companies should be free to decide the storage location of the data.

Google, Microsoft and Amazon have already established their data centers in India. However, these centers are used only to service customers and most of the data of individuals are stored overseas.

Meanwhile, Google said that it was building AI based solutions with virtual assistants answering questions by accessing user data. Google said that its "model will not access the data until the customer explicitly requests us. The same principle that we apply to data, we also apply to AI models. If you build an AI model in our cloud, you're in the model. We don't even look at the model. It's your private software, you do whatever you want."

Edited By: Udit Verma

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