“Data Policy Must Enable Start-ups, Ensure Privacy, Foster Innovation,” Say Experts


New Delhi: Policy framework in India must enable start-ups, ensure privacy, and foster innovation, experts opined during a discussion hosted by the Centre for The Digital Future (CDF) around recommendations by the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) on Data Protection. They also cautioned against over-reliance on consent, purpose limitation while urging for the need of enhancing openness, transparency, state accountability, and regulatory capacity.

Former professor of IIM Ahmedabad Rekha Jain pointed out that even the unified data protection framework does not deal sufficiently with the role of non-personal data (NPD) like weather and infrastructure that does not pertain to human beings. She also emphasized the need for ‘open data’ to be made available and accessible by the government as already mandated under the extant policy framework.

Co-Founder of Koan Advisory Group Vivan Sharan, argued for a risk-based approach to mitigate both vertical and horizontal harms based on first principles that are future-ready instead of self-limiting granularity with likely shorter shelf-life. He added that the policymakers must make a conscious choice amongst innovation, infrastructure, and compliance keeping in mind the priorities and prospects for the Indian economy, more globalised than ever.

Arrka co-founder and CEO Shivangi Nadkarni asserted that accountability of data fiduciaries is important in handling personal data, in particular, considering numerous examples of mobile apps obtaining unnecessary and intrusive permissions that may lead to harm. She also highlighted over-reliance on consent and Data Protection Authority even as she clarified that the use of consent managers is not mandatory. Founder of the start-up Beagle Security, Rejah Rehim opined that the proposed framework would improve data protection, cyber security, and identity management even as he expressed concern around data localisation and purpose limitation. While the former may add to cost, the latter may hinder innovation.

The discussion was chaired by Dr. Shubhashis Gangopadhyay, Vice-chairperson, CDF, and moderated by Deepak Maheshwari, Senior Fellow, CDF.

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