‘Data Privacy Well Within Trai’s Turf ’
RS Sharma denies claims that regulator has exceeded its brief by floating a paper on data ownership, privacy and security
New Delhi: Telecom regulator RS Sharma rejected claims that the watchdog exceeded its brief by floating a paper on data ownership, privacy and security, saying consumer interest and protection were the only objectives of the exercise. Sharma told ET it was well within the authority’s turf to look into aspects of data ownership and security because it could regulate data pipes that link devices to the internet, adding that it was not controlling content.
“One might say this is data, not your concern. But it is not just data, consumer interest is inextricably linked to this situation. Therefore, it is part of consumer protection and that’s why we’re talking about it,” said Trai chairman Sharma.
“We’re not talking about data on the internet, but as far as access is concerned — device, pipe up to the gateway of the internet — is our territory and whatever happens here is certainly a matter of concern for us. And nobody can deny that this is a legitimate consumer protection activity,” he added.
Telcos and some observers questioned whether data ownership, security and privacy fall under the regulator’s ambit. Some raised the point that the Supreme Court would soon
rule on the broader issue of individual privacy and protection. Sharma did not comment on the matter in the apex court. Trai said the recommendations that may emerge from the consultation paper issued on Wednesday can be shared with the ministry of IT.
Trai will be flexible about the matter and may even reconsider making recommendations if it emerges that the matter is beyond its jurisdiction. Sharma, though, added that he believed that’s not the case.
Sharma cited conditions in licences given to telcos that specify terms on ensuring data protection and privacy, which are also mentioned in the consultation paper on ‘Privacy, Security and Ownership of the Data in the Telecom Sector.’
“The paper gives precisely the conditions of the licence, which talks about data protection. Since data has become so important and relevant, we’re now talking about whether those conditions need to be strengthened or fine-tuned, more conditions need to be added, or we need to do something else,” Sharma said.
Sharma rejected Apple’s objections around privacy protocols, saying the DND app does not seek access to all call logs or messages of registered users.