Countries have a sovereign right over data to protect privacy of citizens: Prasad at G-20 meet

NEW DELHI: Countries have a sovereign right over data to protect privacy and security of its citizens, union electronics and IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said while addressing a virtual G-20 Ministers meeting on Wednesday. He also said that digital platforms which operate across multiple geographies must become trustworthy, safe and secure.

This comes after India banned 59 Chinese apps citing threats to the country’s “sovereignty and security” late last month. The apps included top social media platforms like TikTok, WeChat and Helo along with ShareIT, UC Browser and shopping app Club Factory.

“Digital platforms anywhere in the world have to be responsive and accountable towards the sovereign concerns of countries including defence, privacy and security of citizens,” Prasad told the digital Ministers of the G20 countries which was also attended by China.

“Digital economy must go hand in hand with the data economy because data is an important component to accelerate the digital economy, ” he said. “Yes we understand the issue of data innovation, data cross flow, but we also need to acknowledge who has the sovereign right over data? He said that India is very clear that data must belong to the sovereign nation concerned to protect the privacy of its people, to protect digital concerns of its people and obviously giving them occasion for innovation, enterprise…”

He also said that India is soon going to put in place a robust personal data protection law which will not only address the data privacy related concerns of citizens but also ensure “availability of data for innovation and economic development.” The personal data protection Bill, 2019 which was introduced in the Parliament last year is currently under the review of a joint parliamentary committee (JPC) of the Parliament. The JPC is expected to resume its consultation with the companies and industry bodies soon after a hiatus of four months imposed due to the CoronaVirus pandemic.

Prasad also spoke about the need for building a resilient global supply chain in the wake of Covid-19 talking about the vision for Atma-nirbhar Bharat and making India an attractive destination for investment that is closely integrated with global supply chains.

He also expressed India’s commitment to emerging technologies like Artificial Intelligence for inclusive growth and development especially in healthcare and education. Prasad called for building “trustworthy Artificial Intelligence systems” that can transform the society.

India’s banked on digital platforms like Aarogya Setu mobile app, geo-fencing system for monitoring quarantined patients and COVID19 Savdhan bulk messaging systems, Prasad said adding that during the Covid crisis, digital systems such as like Direct Benefit Transfers and digital payments helped the government in providing relief to the citizens during the lockdown.

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