Technology companies are worried about losing control on proprietary data products and getting caught up in bureaucratic red tape as they prepare to file responses to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) for its consultation paper on privacy , security and ownership of the data in the telecom sector.
Trai has sought responses on required data protection regulations, user consent, data ownership, rights and responsibilities of data controller, government’s possible authority and control, compliance and cross-border flow of data. The Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) will be submitting responses soon on behalf of its members such as Google, Amazon, Facebook, Airbnb and Flipkart. It has sent out a draft to its members and has sought feedback before finalising a common ground. The deadline to file is November 6.
“The industry is pitching light-touch regulations with broad principles than tight rules that may stifle innovation. Any regulation has to balance the rights of citizens with economics of technology companies and startups,“ a person involved in drafting industry response said. “We have to be mindful that India is just starting out on the big data journey .We are not yet a developed economy like the European Union. We need a solution that works for India.”
IAMAI and Amazon declined to comment on the consultation paper.Mails sent to Facebook, LinkedIn, Hotstar and Microsoft did not elicit a response. Google redirected queries to IAMAI.
Technology companies see data as an asset of individuals in adherence to the recent SC verdict on privacy , but once the user consent is given, the processed and anonymised data is an asset of the companies which they either use for earning advertising dollars or better their technology offering and solutions. Anonymised data refers to data from which the consumer cannot be identified by the recipient of the information.
“The issue of concern is that there are different kinds of data. We cannot lose control on our data products created from anonymised data. It is a commodity used by technology companies in artificial intelligence and machine learning. We cannot have a law that infringes on our business,” said another person, who is al so part of the team drafting responses. IAMAI and its members believe it is a regulatory overreach by the Trai to seek public comments on the issue.
It believes it is the job of the ministry of electronics and information technology (MeitY) which is already on it. “Regulations are playing catch up with innovation and technology . We want a law that is flexible to future innovation and takes in account that data is an asset,“ said another source. “Cloud-based flow of data is across geographies. If this is stopped, many industries will be massively hit. Today , all technology companies are international businesses.”
The world over, many countries are starting to take data privacy regulations more seriously.