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India will uphold its data sovereignty… That is not negotiable: Govt

India will uphold its data sovereignty… That is not negotiable: Govt

New Delhi: The Government is ready with the draft personal data protection law and it may allow data mobility overseas based upon reciprocity, IT and Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said on Friday. He also said that people are not pleased with the European data protection law, and are looking the way it will shape up in India.

"India will uphold its data sovereignty. That will not be negotiable. India is a huge country, generating a lot of data. I do acknowledge that some degree of data movement is important in a digital world but that will be based upon reciprocity and understanding," Prasad said at a Confederation of Indian Industries event.

The draft of Personal Data Protection Bill, 2018 — which is based on the recommendations of the government-constituted high-level panel headed by Justice B N Srikrishna — restricts and imposes conditions on the cross-border transfer of personal data, and suggests setting up of Data Protection Authority of India to prevent any misuse of personal information.

"Data is going to become an important area of growth, commerce and vulnerable area of dispute. Data protection law we have finalised. I will take it to the cabinet. I feel data anonymity should also be kept in focus. Anybody, Indian or international, seeking to indulge in data commerce will have to follow the rules of the game," Prasad said.

In response to a question from former Infosys executive vice-chairman Kris Gopalakrishnan, Prasad said the world is now looking at proposed data protection regulation in India.

"I went to Stanford to give a lecture and all of them are waiting for India's data protection law. All of them, because they are not happy with European product at all. Therefore, (the) world is looking at India. What is important, is India's moment must be seized properly," the minister said.

The government started process on framing personal data protection law after the Supreme Court held that privacy is a fundamental right and asked the government to work around it. The minister reiterated his aim to grow India's digital economy to USD 1 trillion in next 4-5 years.

Kotak Mahindra Bank MD and CEO Uday Kotak asked the minister about preparation of India to deal with trade war-like scenario between the US and China. "India is too big a country to be swayed by these momentary impulses of competition. My take is very simple. Regardless of all the limitation, let us learn to trust ourselves. And whenever and wherever we have trusted ourselves - you all have given results," Prasad replied.

He said that the matter is very sensitive for him to make any off the line comment. "What I feel is we must observe it closely, properly. Something good will come for India because globally people trust India's human resource, India's open society, India as a country (has) great substance and sanctity," Prasad said.

The US has barred its software and hardware companies from supplying products and services to Chinese telecom major Huawei alleging security threat from the company. While many experts see it a trade war in the name of security. Huawei has alleged that the US has been lobbying against the company across the world to stop it from rolling out 5G technology products.

Earlier, on Thursday, the Digital Communications Commission (DCC) — the apex decision-making body of the Telecom Department —cleared the norms for 5G trials in India, even as the government mulls a "calibrated" view on the question of Chinese giant Huawei's participation.

A decision on the contentious issue of use of Huawei equipment in telecom infrastructure, particularly for futuristic 5G networks, is expected to be taken soon, said a senior government official who did not wish to be named.

The official asserted that India will take a considered view on the matter "maximising its self interest". When contacted, Telecom Secretary Aruna Sundararajan said: "...it will be a calibrated decision. We will ensure all security certifications, and there will be no compromise on security and equally we will drive a hard bargain to ensure that there is space for Indian intellectual property rights (IPRs) in new 5G rollouts".

"India is engaged with global Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) and India is also keeping track of global developments. We believe this is a huge opportunity to create a platform for 5G with Indian capabilities.

"So whichever OEM we partner with, one of the key considerations will be to see who will give us the best deal for Indian start-ups, Indian IPRs and Indian standards," she told reporters.

Sources said a final decision will be taken soon keeping in view India's interest, capabilities, commercial and strategic requirements as well as overall geopolitical considerations.

Prasad recently alluded to the issue, saying it was a "complex" matter and will be looked at seriously by India including security aspects. Huawei has maintained that its engagement with the Indian government for 5G trials has been "positive" and hoped that the country will make its "own independent decision" on the issue.

Meanwhile, the DCC has approved norms for spectrum allocation for 5G trials based on the recommendations of a DoT-constituted committee chaired by IIT Kanpur Director Abhay Karandikar.

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