Data localisation and digital nationalism are the need of the hour, the Swadeshi Jagran Manch (SJM) said in a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, India Today reported. According to the Economic Times, SJM’s national co-convenor Ashwini Mahajan stated this while calling for support and promotion of Indian alternatives of payment gateways, social media platforms, and service aggregators. The SJM, an affiliate of RSS, also assured Modi that it will play a “positive role in ensuring that data localisation, data nationalism and data sovereignty become reality very quickly”, as per India Today.

In SJM’s recent Rashtriya Sabha held in Haridwar, the group passed a resolution for ensuring sovereignty of data, data localisation, and digital nationalism, the letter said, per India Today. In the letter, Mahajan described data generated in the country as a “national asset”, that it should be conserved property, and India must pull back from negotiating data sovereignty at bilateral and multilateral trade talks. “Data should not only be stored within geographical limits of India, but must also be computed here. Data is a national asset; it may be commercial, strategic or even elementary. Data must be protected,” he said, according to The Economic Times.

The government must identify apps which are gathering unnecessary data and seeking more than required permissions, SJM said, and demanded punitive action against them, per India Today.

SJM has previously raised his concerns around several issues:

  • Wrote to PM Modi in July 2019 calling for action on Chinese start-up Bytedance-owned apps TikTok and Helo. He accused the company of being close to the Chinese government, raised concern about Chinese apps transferring data to Chinese servers.
  • Wrote to PM Modi in February 2019 calling for barriers for Chinese companies operating in India, raising national security concerns.
  • SJM also supported the FDI restrictions on e-commerce, and the resultant Press Note 2, 2018 released by the government. It has called out allegedly predatory pricing and circumvention of India’s FDI rules by e-commerce giants Amazon and Flipkart.