CUTS International cautions against pre-mature regulation of non-personal data

The Page One Asia, August 12, 2020

CUTS International, an international public policy group, while discussing the merits of recently released report on Non-Personal Data (NPD) Governance Framework, highlighted the need to let the data market develop itself, and cautioned against premature and over regulation.

An online discussion titled “Optimal governance of non-personal data” was organised by CUTS International to deliberate upon Non-Personal Data Governance Framework report prepared by the Committee of Experts headed by Kris Gopalakrishnan.

During the discussion, Rajya Sabha MP Amar Patnaik said there is a need to let the data market develop itself and cautioned against premature and over regulation. He mentioned that the conditions for a vibrant data market need to be created and it is important to ascribe a value to data, to enable the stakeholders to realise its potential. A principles-based ecosystem for data sharing needs to be created.

Speaking on the occasion, former Member, Competition Commission of India, Geeta Gouri pointed out that the Report confuses between data markets and platform markets. There is a need to differentiate between data aggregators and platforms. The CCI needs to build capacity and expertise to review entry barriers in data markets. However, the timing of CCI’s intervention would be the key, and it should not rush to review perceived barriers, she added.

When the market is sufficiently developed, the regulation should aim to achieve equity, Lok Sabha MP said Ritesh Pandey said, adding that the accountability of different entities in the NPD market needs to be sufficiently clarified to empower data principles.

Former Supreme Court Justice B.N. Srikrishna and Chair, Committee of Experts on Data Protection, noted that the present focus should be on strengthening and enacting the Personal Data Protection Bill.

He noted that all laws need to be citizen centric, and non-personal data is no exception. Regulation should make a journey from citizen rights to other objectives and not the other way round.

To achieve convergence, a National Data Policy could be developed, from which the regulation could flow, said Bipul Chatterjee, Executive Director, CUTS International, who also moderated the discussion.

The importance of the whole of government approach and evidence-based policymaking was also stressed upon. The NPD Authority should be mandated to undertake cost-benefit analysis of its proposed regulations, to ensure optimal regulation.

The speakers also highlighted implementation challenges in NPD regulation. It was suggested that the 3-principle test laid down by the Supreme Court in Puttaswamy judgement: legitimacy, necessity, and proportionality, should be complied with while mandating data sharing by the state.

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