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Piyush Goyal at G20: Data is a sovereign asset, free trade can’t justify its free flow

Photo of Piyush Goyal
Source: <a href="https://twitter.com/PiyushGoyal?ref_src=twsrcgoogletwcampserptwgrauthor">@PiyushGoyal</a>/Twitter

At the G20 trade ministers meeting in Japan, Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal argued against using free trade to justify the free flow of data. Instead, he asserted that countries must have the sovereign right to use data they generate for the welfare and development of their people, reported the Economic Times. The minister referred to Digital India, StartUp India, and Aadhaar, all which generate huge amount of data, and said, “This includes personal, community and public data and countries must have the sovereign right, to use their data, for the welfare and development of its people”. He also said that issues of privacy and security should be given due consideration in the debate on Data Free Flow with Trust (DFFT) before global rules are made on e-commerce. India registered its opposition to DFFT, but the Ministerial Statement on Trade and Digital Economy supported the principle of DFFT while recognising that “the free flow of data raises certain challenges”. This came up as the 77 members were negotiating a joint initiative on e-commerce by looking at global rules on digital trade. India refused to support this initiative on e-commerce because, as Goyal said, “Developing countries need time and policy space to build deepest understanding of the subject and formulate their own legal and regulatory framework before meaningfully engaging in e-commerce negotiations.” What is Data Free Flow with Trust? Proposed by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the World Economic Forum earlier this year, DFFT aims to eliminate restrictions on…

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