7 PM | Taking national data seriously | 17th October, 2019

Context: Data sharing in global economy.

Data: Information in raw or unorganized form (such as alphabets, numbers, or symbols) that refer to, or represent, conditions, ideas, or objects. Data is limitless and present everywhere in the universe.

Digital Economy: The “digital economy” is a term for all of those economic processes, transactions, interactions and activities that are based on digital technologies. The digital economy is different from the internet economy in that the internet economy is based on internet connectivity, whereas the digital economy is more broadly based on any of the many digital tools used in today’s economic world.

Importance of data in digital economy:

  • In a digital economy, data is the central resource. Data is being considered as a nation’s new wealth. It acts as fuel to the digital economy. 
  • With data being the most important economic resource, ownership and economic appropriation of data’s value will determine how individuals, firms and countries fare in the formative digital economy.
  • Data’s economic value comes from the digital intelligence that it provides about the data subject. People allowing access to some such data/intelligence about themselves to other trusted agents is not only useful, it is increasingly necessary in a digital economy.
  • However, it is important to employ data fruitfully and capture its value to ensure a good rank in the emerging new global geo-economic and geo-political hierarchy.

Importance of data sharing:

  • Data sharing benefits the researcher, research sponsors, data repositories, the scientific community, and the public. It encourages more connection and collaboration between scientists, and better science leads to better decision making.
  • Synergy: There are inherent benefits of data sharing for the researcher and research sponsor. Making the data available to their peers and the public incentivizes researchers to better manage their data and ensure their data are of high quality. Thus, data sharing can help raise recognition and prominence for both the researcher and the research sponsor.
  • Collaboration: Data sharing encourages more connection and collaboration among the different governmental bodies, public and other stakeholders.
  • Better Science & Decision making: Sharing data increases data circulation and use within the community by encouraging better transparency, enabling reproducibility of results, and informing the larger scientific community. This can greatly benefit the public as better and more widely disseminated information can lead to informed decision making for environmental planning and policy.

Data Sharing in India: 

  • NITI Aayog’s AI strategy focuses on the issue of more data sharing within the country and better access to data for domestic businesses. 
  • National Data Sharing and Accessibility Policy (NDSAP):
  • NDSAP aims to provide an enabling provision and platform for proactive and open access to the data generated by various Government of India entities. 
  • The objective of this policy is to facilitate access to Government of India owned shareable data (along with its usage information) in machine readable form through a wide area network all over the country in a periodically updatable manner, within the framework of various related policies, acts and rules of Government of India, thereby permitting a wider accessibility and usage by public.
  • The principles on which data sharing and accessibility need to be based include: Openness, Flexibility, Transparency, Quality, Security and Machine-readable.
  • Open Government Data (OGD) Platform India – data.gov.in – is a platform for supporting Open Data initiative of Government of India.  It intends to increase transparency in the functioning of Government and also open avenues for many more innovative uses of Government Data to give different perspective.

Need of control and regulation of Community Data: 

  • Community data gives a basis of detailed and deep intelligence about a community.
  • This can be used to manipulate people regarding various aspects of life from being in politics, electoral behavior, social, economic etc.
  • Data about a group of people, even if anonymous, provide a very wide and granular intelligence about that group or the community.
  • The very basis of a digital economy is to employ such data based intelligence to reorganize and coordinate different sectors, for example, Uber in transport sector and Amazon in consumer goods. 
  • It is for this reason that the community (including a national community) should effectively control and regulate intelligence from such community data.
  • India needs to preserve its data policy space. We have not yet began dealing with the very complex data policy issues which include data classification, data ownership rights, data sharing, data trust and so on. 
  • India does not have the US’ first mover advantage, nor can it follow China’s methods based on complete and arbitrary authority of the state. In this very difficult situation, India has to explore paths based on the rule of law. With regards to this, the draft e-commerce policy has taken the most important first step of instituting collective or community rights over the economic value of important data produced in and by India – the very oil of the digital economy.

RCEP and data:

Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) trade negotiations with ASEAN, China, South Korea, Japan, Australia and New Zealand are underway. India may accept free data flow clauses with some public policy exceptions.

With the signing on a free flow of data regime, India will largely end up ceding most of its data policy space and data sovereignty. It needs to be understood that suitable data control and policies are not to be exceptions but the mainstream of a digital economy and society. Data is important for digital industrialization and overall India’s development. India should not hurry in signing global free flow of data agreements.

Source: https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/lead/taking-national-data-seriously/article29716990.ece

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