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India and tech policy at the G20 Summit

Class photo of world leaders at the G20 summit
G20 Leaders at Osaka, Japan. Source: @narendramodi/Twitter

While briefing the media at G20 summit in Osaka, Japan, Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale stressed on the need to frame rules on data within the WTO and not at the G20. This is in direct opposition to Japan’s initiative of ‘Data Free Flow with Trust’ (DFFT) that Shinzo Abe proposed at the World Economic Forum earlier this year, and USA’s stance on cross-border data flow. In a significant move, India refused to sign the Osaka Declaration on Digital Economy. India’s stance on cross-border data flow Osaka Track seeks to promote cross-border data flows with enhanced protections and has been spearheaded by Japan's Shinzo Abe. Apart from India, South Africa and Indonesia were also absent when G20 members formally signed the statement endorsing the concept after Abe’s announcement at the summit on June 28. DFFT aims to eliminate restrictions on cross-border transfer of information by electronic means, including personal information, and storing data in foreign servers. This is in direct conflict with India’s draft e-commerce policy (read a summary here) that has proposed strict regulation on cross-border data flows, locating computational facilities within India to ensure job creation, and setting up a “data authority” for issues related to sharing of community data. US President Donald Trump, during the G20 Leaders’ Special Event on the Digital Economy on June 28, endorsed the move and said, ‘the United State opposes data localisation and policies, which have been used to restrict digital trade flows and violate privacy and intellectual property protections’. He further said that…

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