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Control, not delete: On China apps ban

Topics Covered: Internal security related issues.

Control, not delete: On China apps ban

Context:

Citing concerns to both data security and national sovereignty, the Indian government on June 29 announced it would block 59 widely used apps, most linked to Chinese companies.

How government defends its move?

Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology cited “the emergent nature of threats” posed by the apps and “information available” that they are engaged in activities “prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of state and public order”. 

  • The apps, according to the Ministry, had been reported for “stealing and surreptitiously transmitting users’ data in an unauthorized manner to servers which have locations outside India”, which “impinges upon the sovereignty and integrity of India”.

Data localisation:

The government said the move protects the digital data of Indian users from the Chinese government and addresses data localisation concerns.

What does Data Localization mean?

Data localization is the act of storing data on any device that is physically present within the borders of a specific country where the data was generated.

Why data localization is necessary for India?

  1. For securing citizen’s data, data privacy, data sovereignty, national security, and economic development of the country.
  2. Recommendations by the RBI, the committee of experts led by Justice BN Srikrishna, the draft ecommerce policy and the draft report of the cloud policy panelshow signs of data localisation.
  3. The extensive data collection by technology companies, has allowed them to process and monetize Indian users’ data outside the country. Therefore, to curtail the perils of unregulated and arbitrary use of personal data, data localization is necessary.
  4. Digital technologies like machine learning (ML), artificial intelligence (AI) and Internet of Things (IoT) can generate tremendous value out of various data. It can turn disastrous if not contained within certain boundaries.
  5. With the advent of cloud computing, Indian users’ data is outside the country’s boundaries,leading to a conflict of jurisdiction in case of any dispute.

Data localization is an opportunity for Indian technology companies to evolve an outlook from services to products.

Recommendations:

The Srikrishna Committee wants to localise data for law enforcement to have easy access to data, to prevent foreign surveillance, to build an artificial intelligence ecosystem in India, and because undersea cables through which data transfers take place are vulnerable to attacks.

Reserve Bank of India has also imposed a hard data localisation mandate on payment systems providers to store payment systems data only in India.

The government has also been working on a draft data protection policy since 2018, which is currently under discussion in a joint parliamentary committee.

data

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Srikrishna Committee is associated with?
  2. What is IoT?
  3. Section 66A of IT Act.
  4. What is data localisation?

Mains Link:

Write a note on data localisation.

Sources: the Hindu.