Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam Centre once again argued in favour of data localisation for purposes of law enforcement and financial purposes, MediaNama has learnt. The founder CEO of the Kalam Centre, Srijan Pal Singh, spent a significant amount of the three-hour meeting talking about artificial intelligence (AI) as he deposed before the committee for the second time. The next meeting will be held on August 26 and industry body NASSCOM is expected to depose then.

It is understood that the Kalam Centre talked about how localised data would propel economic growth in the country. We have also learnt that much of the Centre’s deposition was technical and went beyond the ambit of the Personal Data Protection Bill as it discussed other issues of the digital economy well beyond privacy.but

It is understood that the Kalam Centre cited political manipulation by Big Tech in their deposition as a problem and quoted Republican representatives from the US to that effect, the accusations of bias against Facebook were not brought up at all; either by the Centre or by the members. The Centre also talked about the ethical use of AI and the need for algorithmic accountability per our understanding. Both on August 11 and today, the Centre had talked about the need to remove the black box around algorithms so that users could understand how algorithms actually collect and process data, we have learnt.

In its deposition on August 11, the Kalam Centre had talked about using localised data to stem cybercrime, including financial frauds, as well as the rights of users, especially the right to be forgotten. They argued that some data may need to be retained for law enforcement and judicial purposes, but only for a certain period.

Apart from Chairperson Meenakshi Lekhi, at least 15 MPs attended today’s meeting, including Rajeev Chandrashekhar, Tejaswi Surya, P.P. Chaudhary, Ajay Bhatt, Bhupender Yadav, Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, Ritesh Pandey, Amar Patnaik, Manish Tewari, and Jairam Ramesh.

Like every meeting on this Bill, it is understood that representatives from the IT Ministry and Law Ministry were present. MEITY Additional Secretary Rajendra Kumar was there along with Scientist ‘G’ Rakesh Maheshwari and Scientist ‘C’ Vikas Chourasia were there along with Rajveer Singh Verma, Additional Secretary of the Department of Legal Affairs, and R. Sreenivas, Additional Legislative Counsel in the Legislative Department.

***Update (August 21, 2020 5:37 pm): Updated with details about NASSCOM’s deposition. Originally published on August 21, 2020 at 1:35 pm.