[Answered] India has championed Data sovereignty as a means of resisting ‘data colonialism’. What importance does data sovereignty hold in the present times? Discuss the steps taken by India to ensure data sovereignty.

Introduction: Write short notes on Data sovereignty and Data colonialism.
Body: Write about the importance of Data sovereignty in present times. Mention the steps taken by the Government to ensure data sovereignty.
Conclusion: Give a way forward. 

As the world becomes more and more digital, the data has become a new oil. So, in this scenario while countries are looking for data protection, corporate world is trying to capture more and more data. It gives rise to two polarizing concepts, ‘data colonialism’ and ‘data sovereignty’.  

Data Sovereignty means that data collection and processing is subject to the laws and regulations of the country where data is originated. whereas Data Colonialism refers the phenomenon where data collected from countries all around the world is concentrated in the hands of a few multinationals (like Google and Facebook) and Nations (Like USA and China), which gives them disproportionate power and ability to exploit other countries. 

India has been one of the most vocal supporters of ‘Data Sovereignty’ to resist “Data Colonialism’. Importance of Data Sovereignty 

  • To uphold right to privacy: People in India have a fundamental right to privacy under Article 21 of the constitution. To protect the privacy of an individual it is imperative that their individual data is subject to domestic laws. 
  • To ensure security and unity of country: The selling of such data to an enemy country could lead to the possibility of instigating ethnic conflicts in the country. which threatens the security and unity of the country. 
  • To ensure political autonomy and non-interference: Personal data can be used to influence the political behavior of an individual and that undermines the free and fair electoral process. For example, Cambridge Analytica’s role in 2016 US presidential election. 
  • Economic significance: As the economy becomes more and more digital, dependency on foreign data infrastructure will be harmful for the economic growth of the country. 
  • To ensure better service delivery: The digitization of governance in India needs data sovereignty to utilize the data for planning, executing and monitoring of service delivery. 
  • To ensure better law enforcement: Data sovereignty will allow the judiciary and other agencies to access data whenever needed. This reduces dependency on foreign corporations. For example, if some data is required for a crime committed on social media, it is not freely available to investigation agencies at present.  

The government of India has taken several steps to ensure data sovereignty. 

  • The RBI issued directive to all system providers to ensure that, the entire data relating to payment systems operated by them is stored only in India. This covered not only card payment services by Visa and MasterCard but also of companies such as Paytm, WhatsApp and Google which offer electronic or digital payment services. 
  • Government has introduced personal data protection bill on the lines of EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). It requires all sensitive and critical data to be stored in India. Further it requires that a digital company must obtain explicit permission from a user before collecting their personal data. 
  • India did not sign the Osaka track, which is a framework to promote free flow of cross border data. 
  • Flagship ‘Digital India’ programme is a way forward to make data as the cornerstone of India’s socioeconomic future, where the government leverages the Indian citizen’s data for the benefit of the people themselves, and not solely for profit-making. 

India has the second highest number of internet users in the world, to protect and meaningfully utilize their data India needs to expedite the process of creating a data protection law along with a sustained campaign against data colonialism globally. 

Print Friendly and PDF