‘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

The Economic Times - - Companies - Gul­veen.Au­lakh @times­group.com

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

Within Am­bit

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.

The con­sul­ta­tion paper is in­tended to as­sess whether the data rights of mo­bile phone users are ad­e­quately pro­tected and iden­tify key is­sues per­tain­ing to data pro­tec­tion in re­la­tion to delivery of digital ser­vices, in­clud­ing tele­com and data ser­vices, as well as de­vices, net­works and ap­pli­ca­tions that col­lect and con­trol data gen­er­ated by users through tel­cos. The paper ap­pears to be have been trig­gered by iPhone maker Ap­ple, which is yet to al­low the reg­u­la­tor’s Do-NotDis­turb app to be listed on its App Store. Trai said Ap­ple was act­ing like a “data coloniser” and is be­ing “anti-con­sumer.” Ap­ple, how­ever, re­it­er­ated its pri­vacy pol­icy.

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.

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