Data of Indians cannot be processed outside, should stay in India: Telecom secretary

DoT
Aruna Sundararajan Image source

In a strong emphasis on data privacy, Telecom secretary Aruna Sundararajan said that data of Indians should stay in India.

Data is personal and there’s a paramount need for privacy. It cannot be that all the Indians’ data is processed outside. Data analytics, artificial intelligence on it cannot be done from outside, Sundararajan told ET.

India should be no different to leading countries such as US and China, who keeping their data to themselves and have built their digital economy, she added.

Speaking on Srikrishna committee report, she said the committee has tried to strike a balance between how individual data is protected, leaving enough room for the digital economy to grow.

The statement comes at a time when India is attempting to come to grips with country’s own data privacy.

Last Friday, Justice BN Srikrishna 10-member committee submitted recommendations on data privacy. The committee, after a year of deliberations, has suggested that sensitive data should be processed only within the country and ought not to be transferred outside the country. It has also outlined a few exceptions in keeping India’s interest first.

However, the view drew criticism from experts. The committee has also recommended changes in the Aadhaar Act, in which, it mentions penalty for unauthorised use of core biometric information.

The bill will now be tabled in Cabinet for further deliberations on the committee’s recommendations.

Besides, talking about the telecom sector, she hailed the Idea and Vodafone merger as beneficial for the future of the telecom industry. With the merger of Vodafone and Idea, you have three very strong players, and all have their own strengths and staying power, she said.

She further said govt top priorities are to get broadband for everyone, reaching out to the marginalised communities and unconnected areas.

The govt is currently focused on implementing 1 million WiFi hotspots by December 2018. The second big thrust is on areas such as AI, IoT, content and 5G, she added.

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