September 24, 2023

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Government to use tech industry suggestions for draft e-commerce policy

According to a press release, the Minister of Commerce and Industry held a consultation with the tech industry to understand their concerns and suggestions towards building a robust data protection framework that will strengthen privacy and increase innovation and fortify India’s position as a global tech leader.

Several major e-commerce and tech companies across all segments, that have businesses in India and foreign MNCs, participated in the interactive session in New Delhi, earlier this week.

The release said that the companies that were represented in this meeting put forth their concerns related to the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) data storage requirements and processing related guidelines issued by the organisation.

E-commerce industry representatives also put forth their concerns about the e-commerce draft policy, which, in their opinion, was not adequately consultative.

Representatives also noted that the data free flow discussed in the recent G20 Ministerial Meeting on Trade and Digital Economy was a positive development for India in principle and India must participate in the discussions on digital trade. However, issues of concern for the country must be taken up as and when they arise during the G20 discussions.

The consultations for the data protection bill by the Ministry of Electronics and IT was satisfactory, but as a lot of time had elapsed and the industry was not sure about the final shape of the bill.

Participants discussed the principles of data protection and privacy at length in the meeting and industry representatives want the bill to have more clarity around the classification of data and the manner of cross border flow of data.

Along those lines, the Minister of Electronics and IT recently said that India needs a new regulatory framework for the digital world and that laws like the Indian IT law as well as the data protection law need to be upgraded.

The IT Ministry has finalised the data protection law and it is expected to be taken to the cabinet and parliament for approval.

The Minister said that data is the ‘new oil’. Data security is crucial, and India generates a lot of data and data sovereignty will not be negotiable. While some data mobility is important, the country needs to have reciprocity. It will keep data availability, utility, innovation, localisation, and security in sync.

Areas of data availability, data innovation and its security and utility are more important than ever. Fields as varied as child health and nutrition and financial services have a high degree of data importance and utility.

Last month, OpenGov reported that the government is working towards constituting a legal framework for the adoption of large-scale AI systems. The IT Minister said that when the government talks about whether it is ready to get into the AI journey, it is looking at going there in stages, and the first stage is having privacy recognised is a fundamental right.

The need for privacy laws is critical, specifically to address the role AI has in helping companies analyse a large pool of consumer data, especially for advertising purposes. A privacy law with regards to data protection will be enacted by the government soon.

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