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ORF Round Table: India, US, Law Enforcement and data governance

"I'm worried", a participant at ORF's Round Table on 'India at the Crossroads: Unlocking the Nation's Digital Potential', said. "I'm worried about the Personal Data Protection bill being a miss, and creating more turbulence. I'm worried about bilateral trade discussions, and that this issue [data localisation] will become the new issue in trade fights. I'm worried about bureaucrats on both US and India sides not understanding technicalities [of data governance]. I'm worried about protectionism. Is it about law enforcement access, privacy or giving Indian companies a competitive advantage? I'm worried about data being treated as currency or oil. The [Indian government's idea of] monetisation of [personal] data is a very provocative thought, and that flies in the face of protecting peoples privacy. It's an analogy that not everyone accepts." [Note that the discussion was held under the Chatham House Rule, where comments may be reported, but without attribution. We've also moved the sequence of comments around, to further protect the identity of the individuals who spoke.] The "'Data Sovereignty' ideology", another participant pointed out, "appears as if we're going backwards". The point of data sovereignty came up repeatedly during the discussion, at one point, as a more positive and palpable phrase than 'Data Localisation', before a speaker pointed out that the idea of sovereignty can also be taken in another context, hinting that it may apply to the supreme power of the state over citizens. Indeed, some participants tried to position data as the new oil, or as a state…

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Written By

Founder @ MediaNama. TED Fellow. Asia21 Fellow @ Asia Society. Co-founder SaveTheInternet.in and Internet Freedom Foundation. Advisory board @ CyberBRICS

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