For Data Pro­tec­tion Mi­nus Data Res­i­dency

The Economic Times - - The Edit Page -

In­dia needs laws on pri­vacy and data pro­tec­tion. The chances of data breaches tak­ing place from some node with lax se­cu­rity or the other of an in­ter­con­nected mesh of nodes are grow­ing by the day. And once a per­son’s bio­met­rics have been com­pro­mised, they can­not be reis­sued like pass­words. In­tel­li­gent pol­icy for­mu­la­tion, af­ter public de­bate in­volv­ing all stake­hold­ers, and en­force­ment of norms brook no de­lay.

Some tech­no­log­i­cal fixes are on the hori­zon, with blockchains, the tech­nol­ogy un­der­ly­ing bit­coins, promis­ing the pos­si­bil­ity of in­di­vid­ual con­trol over some cru­cial data. Even so, In­dia will need both na­tional leg­is­la­tion and bind­ing agree­ments with other na­tions, to make op­ti­mal use of data. There is a grow­ing cry to leg­is­late data res­i­dency, the re­quire­ment that data on In­di­ans should nec­es­sar­ily re­side within In­dia. While it is vi­tal to pro­tect per­sonal data, it is fu­tile to imag­ine that mere lo­ca­tion of servers in a par­tic­u­lar ge­og­ra­phy will take the data stored on them be­yond ex­ter­nal scru­tiny. What is more ger­mane is to for­mu­late in­tel­li­gent and en­force­able do­mes­tic data pro­tec­tion rules and al­low data porta­bil­ity only to other ju­ris­dic­tions that of­fer sim­i­lar pro­tec­tion and guar­an­tees of pro­tec­tion to the data of In­di­ans as well. The EU seeks to har­monise dat­apro­tec­tion laws across its mem­ber states pre­cisely to al­low cross-border data mo­bil­ity with­out loss of data in­tegrity.

Data porta­bil­ity is vi­tal for two rea­sons. In­dia has the po­ten­tial to process much of the world’s data and can­not af­ford to be locked out of this op­por­tu­nity be­cause of its own re­stric­tive poli­cies on data mo­bil­ity. Fur­ther, ad­vances in ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence de­pend on ac­cess to all kinds of data, from which al­go­rithms learn. In­dia needs wide de­bate on global best prac­tices in data pro­tec­tion, lead­ing to firm pol­icy.

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