DoT would only examine relevant recommendations of TRAI’s data privacy policy

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Department of Telecommunications (DoT) Secretary Aruna Sundararajan said that it will take up TRAI recommendations on data ownership, privacy and security only relevant to the telecom sector.

“Trai has given recommendations panning the whole digital ecosystem. Those that are relevant to the telecom sector, which is one part of the ecosystem, we will take them up for serious examination,” Aruna Sundararajan, Telecom Secretary told ET.

It will only see purview of the Indian Telegraph Act. The recommendations that fall under the purview of the Informations Technology Act will be looked after by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY).

Earlier on Monday, TRAI released recommendations titled ‘Privacy, Security and Ownership of Data in the Telecom Sector’ and made applicable for apps, browsers, operating systems and handset makers.

Among many things, it marked in the report that the entities, controlling and processing such data, are mere custodians and do not have primary rights over this data. All entities in the digital ecosystem, which control or process the data, should be restrained from using Meta-data to identify the individual users, read the recommendation made by the Authority.

Terming the existing data protection framework as inadequate, Trai called for inclusion of apps, browsers, operating systems and mobile phones under the same set of rules that govern telecom companies in India, till an overarching data protection law is put in place to safeguard consumer rights.

However, the recommendations received criticism from industry bodies IAMAI and ICA over its jurisdiction and timing.

They called the recommendations illegal and similar to jumping gun ahead of the release of the Srikrishna committee report. The recommendations such as no use of metadata to identify individuals coupled with data minimisation will be detrimental to building the data business in the country said the bodies on recommendations released two days ago.

Meanwhile, Sundararajan said that Trai’s recommendations were timely and in line with the principles laid down by the Supreme Court on privacy and that the government was working towards bringing out a strong data protection law.

Last year in August, the SC had expressed concerns over individual’s right to privacy and called for a data protection law proportionate to the purpose for which data is collected and stored.

DoT will wait for comprehensive data protection law by BN Srikrishna Committee, which is expected to submit its report this month, she said.

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