- Parminder Jeet Singh initiates a debate that legal and democratic requirements for data localization need to be balanced with the values of global digital integration.
What is data localization?
- Data localization means that the personal data of individuals in a particular country should be processed and stored in that country. Its consequence is that the transfer of data across borders should be restricted.
- As the Internet continues to grow, data regulation gains the prominence in many countries.
- Digital society necessitates that data need to be subject under rule of law as it affects all spheres of social, economic and political life.
- It is the state’s responsibility to protect personal data of citizens as privacy is a right guaranteed under Article 21 of Indian Constitution.
- There are dangers to privacy of individuals from
- State agencies
- e-commerce companies
- social media companies
- The writer advocated that the new data protection authority (proposed by Srikrishna Committee) to be a constitutional authority.
- India’s cloud computing policy and draft national e-commerce policy would likely recommend that data generated in the country must be stored locally.
Data as a resource
- Data has become one of the most vital resources of the century.
- Countries like European Union, France and U.K. and India are proposing national data-sharing regimes and data infrastructures especially for data that are generated by users on digital platforms (also known as ‘community data’).
- Data with companies like Uber is an example of community data.
- These regimes necessitated the law to have access to shareable data.
- Also, data is required for
- Smart traffic planning
- The proposed law cannot achieve its purpose if data can easily cross borders.
- Therefore regulations are needed for storage, processing and cross-border flow of data.
Need for data localization
- The Srikrishna Committee wants to localise data for
- law enforcement agencies to have easy access to data
- to prevent foreign surveillance
- to build an artificial intelligence ecosystem in India
- Prevent undersea cables through which data transfers take place from attacks
- Recently, the Reserve Bank of India imposed a hard data localisation mandate on payment systems providers to store payment systems data only in India.
- The writer suggests that free flow should be allowed for general information and knowledge.
- Data between consenting jurisdictions can be regulated through mutual treaties as EU has done with its digital single market.
Data flow needs to be checked
- Allowing unchecked free flow of data would mean withdrawal of the state from key social and economic roles.
- In pursuance of this, all major countries like U.S., Germany, Indonesia, South Korea, Russia, China and EU have some kind of proposals for data localization.
- A balance needs to achieved between the interest of these companies and the interests of those whose livelihoods are attached to these economies.
- Also, fears of state surveillance need to be balanced with the imperatives of a strong enough state that can protect people’s interest.