Facebook, Google oppose Indian policy on user data regulation

By Rahul Vaimal, Associate Editor
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According to sources, India’s attempt to regulate “non-personal” data has rattled the US tech giants Facebook, Google and Amazon so much so that they are planning to fight back against the proposals.

A government-appointed panel in July proposed setting up a regulator for information which would be confidential or free of personal data yet essential for companies to develop their services.

Suggesting that it would move the digital economy on – the panel is proposing a framework for businesses to share data with other organizations – including rivals. The study would form the basis of a new law to govern these data if it is implemented by the Government.

The Indian panel identifies national security, policymaking and research as the purposes for which the sharing of such data is expected.

Meanwhile, the U.S.-India Business Council (USIBC), which is a part of the United States’ Chamber of Commerce, calls the proposal to share data to encourage competition an “anathema” (the term refers to an intense dislike or opposition). They argue that this undermines investments made by companies to process and collect these data.

A USIBC letter that will be submitted to India’s information-technology ministry in the coming weeks says, “USIBC and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce are categorically opposed to mandates that require the sharing of proprietary data.”

According to the sources, representatives from the tech giants have been meeting to discuss their concerns regarding the report.

Kris Gopalakrishnan, the head of the panel and a founding member of Indian technology giant Infosys Ltd, clarified that the committee would work with the government to review industry input.

India’s proposal to regulate non-personal data is the latest irritant to U.S. tech firms that are already facing stricter e-commerce laws and data storage requirements that are being implemented by a number of countries.

India and the US are already at conflict about concerns such as digital taxation and tariffs.
The USIBC draft letter says “forced data sharing” would limit international trade and investment in developing countries, and the panel’s recommendations run counter to Indian PM Narendra Modi’s call to U.S. companies to invest in India.

The tech giants have been eyeing India and its data, attracted by its fastest-growing trillion-dollar economy and America’s escalating conflict with China.