US Trade Secretary Wilbur Ross on Tuesday highlighted data localisation restrictions in India as a barrier to US companies operating in India, saying that it is a goal for the US to eliminate such barriers, which weaken data security and increase the cost of doing business (for US companies). Secretary Ross was speaking at Trade Winds Conference in New Delhi. Data localisation and the restrictions on cross-border data flows have been a key concern for US companies operating in India, especially payments companies like Visa and Mastercard; Mastercard, in fact, also said recently that around $350 million of its $1 billion investment in India is going to be spent on compliance with the Reserve Bank of India's localisation mandate. WhatsApp's rollout of payments in India is held up because of the directive from the RBI. India's recent draft e-commerce policy also sought to mandate localisation for e-commerce data within three years. The draft data protection bill did provide an alternative, allowing for data mirroring, but it remains to be seen whether the final version of the bill (expected to be tabled in Parliament once it re-convenes) will have mirroring or localisation. Citizen data is being viewed as a national asset in India, and the localisation of this data seeks to meet these objectives, among others: Access to data for security agencies for law enforcement requirements Protection against trade sanctions that might make data inaccessible Addressing taxation concerns Treatment of analysed data as a community/national asset, which may be made available…
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