Share Raw Data With Competitors, Govt to Spur Growth: Expert Panel

The Quint, July 24, 2020

The report recommends that data may be shared for “sovereign purpose” such as national security & law enforcement.

A government-appointed expert committee on Thursday, 23 July, said the default position under the proposed framework for governing non-personal data was that “raw data must be shared.”

Elaborating on the ‘Data Sharing’ aspect of the report, the Committee said the default position is that “even if it is a request from the competition, data needs to be shared” within the confines of a stipulated framework.

The nine-member Committee, chaired by Infosys co-founder Kris Gopalakrishnan has stated in its report that open access to metadata and raw data “will spur innovation and digital economy growth at an unprecedented scale in the country.”

Data Sharing With Govt

Responding to questions on the wide data access granted to the government under the proposed framework, Gopalakrishnan said that under this default mechanism of raw data having to be shared, it also has to be shared with the government, which would act as a data custodian or a data trustee.

“In a democracy, we will have to look at how to manage this. The basic assumption has to be that the government always works with best interests,” Gopalakrishnan said.

The committee had submitted its report to the Ministry of Electronics & IT on 15 July and held a virtual press conference to make a presentation on the report and interact with the media.

The “Report by the Committee of Experts on Non-Personal Data Governance Framework” recommends that “the world is awash with data” and it must be regulated in order to create economic value for the country and citizens. The committee has also proposed a separate “new national law” to govern non-personal data as well as the creation of a Non-Personal Data Authority.

Responding to a question by The Quint on concerns raised by experts about the absence of appropriate structures to regulate government’s access to data, Gopalakrishnan said, “the focus is on driving maximum benefit from the data.”

The report recommends that data may be shared for sovereign purpose such as “national security, law enforcement, legal or regulatory purposes.”

“Despite recognising the possible privacy violations through non-personal data, should such requests not comply with principles of necessity, legality and proportionality while enabling such access?” Udai S Mehta, deputy executive director, CUTS International, a consumer rights organisation said.

$1 Trillion From Data by 2024?

Debjani Ghosh, Expert Committee member and president of NASSCOM, said that the framework focuses only on non-personal data. “When we are talking about non-personal data we are talking about anonymised data,” she said in response to The Quint’s question.

“Non-personal data is going to fuel economic growth. This is the first time anywhere that such principals have been created,” she further said.

Gopalakrishnan cited a Nasscom-McKinsey report to say that the data market will become a $500 billion industry in India over the next five years.

“We want India to be the first mover in this new category of economic growth. The target is to ensure we reach $1 trillion by 2024 from digital.” – Kris Gopalakrishnan, Committee chairperson & Infosys co-founder.

The government has invited comments on the report and its proposed governance framework till 13 August.

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