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India needs data regulator for players like Facebook, Google, Amazon, and Uber says govt panel

The new data regulator will manage non-personal data of users. Non-personal data is information that does not include any details such as name, age, or address that could be used to identify an individual.

twitter-logoIndia Today Tech | July 14, 2020 | Updated 10:33 IST

Highlights

  • The data regulator will oversee how companies collect, process, store, monetise and even destroy non-personal data or anonymised data.
  • The panel of experts noted that tech giants have benefitted from the combination of first-mover advantage, sizable network effect, and enormous data.
  • As per the draft, the dominance of these players has left many new entrants and startups being squeezed and faced with significant entry barriers.

The Ministry of electronics and information technology (MeitY) constituted an 8-member panel of experts which has suggested a new data regulator for non-personal data.

A 72-page draft report, obtained by Bloomberg notes that the data regulator will oversee how companies collect, process, store, monetise, and even destroy non-personal data or anonymised data. The aim behind this is to provide certainty for existing businesses and incentives for the creation of new ones, to tap the "enormous" social and public value from data.

Non-personal data is information that does not include any details such as name, age, or address that could be used to identify an individual. It also comprises data that was initially personal but later aggregated and made anonymous.

The panel of experts noted that tech giants like Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Uber have benefitted from the combination of first-mover advantage, sizable network effect, and enormous data. As per the draft, the dominance of these players has left many new entrants and startups being squeezed and faced with significant entry barriers. The draft report will be submitted to India's IT ministry next week before which it will be made available to the dominant companies for consultation.

As per the draft report, the data panel is required to closely evaluate and oversee the aforementioned aspects. The committee also recommended creating a new "data business" classification for those firms that collect, process, store, or otherwise manage data. Those may include health, e-commerce, internet, and technology services companies, many of whom were consulted by the committee before the drafting of the report.

"Market transactions and market forces on their own will not bring about the maximum social and economic benefits from data for society. Appropriate institutional and regulatory structures are essential for a thriving data economy and a well-functioning data society," the draft report said.

The proposed regulator will have integration with raw data pipes of tech companies which will help transform data from one source to the other. Through its legal power, the panel will be able to make data sharing requests.

"Every data business must declare what they do and what data they collect, process and use, in which manner, and for what purposes. This is similar to disclosures required by pharma industry and in food products," the draft report states.

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