2 US se­na­tors urge In­dia to soften stance on data lo­cal­i­sa­tion

Hindustan Times (Lucknow) - - Nation - Reuters let­ters@hin­dus­tan­times.com ▪

NEWDELHI:Two US se­na­tors have called on Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi to soften In­dia’s stance on data lo­cal­i­sa­tion, warn­ing that mea­sures re­quir­ing it rep­re­sent “key trade bar­ri­ers” be­tween the two na­tions.

In a let­ter to Modi dated Fri­day, US Se­na­tors John Cornyn and Mark Warner - co-chairs of the Se­nate’s In­dia cau­cus that com­prises over 30 se­na­tors urged In­dia to in­stead adopt a “light touch” reg­u­la­tory frame­work that would al­low data to flow freely across bor­ders.

The let­ter comes as re­la­tions be­tween Wash­ing­ton and New Delhi are strained over mul­ti­ple is­sues, in­clud­ing an Indo-Rus­sian de­fence con­tract, In­dia’s new tar­iffs on elec­tron­ics and other items, and its moves to buy oil from Iran de­spite up­com­ing US sanc­tions.

Global pay­ments com­pa­nies in­clud­ing Mastercard, Visa and Amer­i­can Ex­press have been lob­by­ing In­dia’s fi­nance min­istry and the Re­serve Bank of In­dia to re­lax pro­posed rules that re­quire all pay­ment data on do­mes­tic trans­ac­tions in In­dia be stored in­side the coun­try by Oc­to­ber 15. The let­ter is most likely a last-ditch ef­fort af­ter the RBI told of­fi­cials at top pay­ment firms this week that the cen­tral bank would im­ple­ment, in full, its data lo­cal­i­sa­tion di­rec­tive without ex­tend­ing the dead­line, or al­low­ing data to be stored both off­shore as well as lo­cally - a prac­tice known as data mir­ror­ing. “We see this (data lo­cal­i­sa­tion) as a fun­da­men­tal is­sue to the fur­ther de­vel­op­ment of dig­i­tal trade and one that is cru­cial to our eco­nomic part­ner­ship,” the US se­na­tors said in the let­ter that has not been pre­vi­ously re­ported. Modi’s of­fice did not im­me­di­ately re­spond to an email seek­ing com­ment.

LO­CAL­I­SA­TION PUSH

In­dia is work­ing on an over­ar­ch­ing data pro­tec­tion law that calls for stor­ing all crit­i­cal per­sonal data in In­dia. E-com­merce and cloud com­put­ing poli­cies are also be­ing devel­oped.

The let­ter also raised con­cerns on the draft data pro­tec­tion bill and e-com­merce pol­icy frame­work that called for strin­gent lo­cal­i­sa­tion mea­sures.

These mea­sures have un­nerved some tech com­pa­nies who fear it will in­crease their in­fra­struc­ture costs, hit their global fraud de­tec­tion an­a­lytic plat­forms and af­fect planned in­vest­ments in In­dia at a time when more and more In­di­ans are go­ing on­line and us­ing dig­i­tal pay­ments.

US lobby groups, that rep­re­sent com­pa­nies such as Face­book Inc, Ama­zon.com and Al­pha­bet Inc-owned Google, have also voiced con­cerns about the pro­pos­als. Shamika Ravi, a mem­ber of Modi’s eco­nomic ad­vi­sory coun­cil, had ear­lier told Reuters that the moves were in the “longterm strate­gic and eco­nomic in­ter­est” of the coun­try.

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