The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) has launched a new draft policy which proposes that private companies be “encouraged” to share non-personal data with Indian startups and researchers through a proposed initiative called the India Datasets Programme. This will also include non-personal data of Indian citizens collected by the central government.
The new draft, called the “National Data Governance Framework Policy,” replaces the now discontinued Data Accessibility Policy, a draft of which was presented by the MeitY in February. The old draft policy was taken down as it was harshly criticized for its proposal to monetize government data.
Experts said the new project could also face a setback, given that private companies are unlikely to want to voluntarily share non-personal data, as there could be trade and intellectual property issues.
The most significant change in the new draft is the omission of perhaps the most controversial provision of the old draft – the sale of centrally collected data on the open market. The former project – “Indian Data Accessibility and Use Policy” – launched in February, proposed that data collected by the Center that has “added value” could be sold in the open market at an “appropriate price “. It has faced a lot of criticism with questions raised about the government collecting data to monetize it in the absence of a data protection law in India.
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Instead, the new project emphasizes the sharing of non-personal data. To do this, it calls for the creation of an India Datasets program, which will consist of non-personal and anonymized data sets from central government entities that have collected data from Indian citizens or those in India. Private companies, he says, will be “encouraged” to share this data. Non-personal data housed in this program would be accessible to Indian startups and researchers, the draft proposal says.
In its most basic form, non-personal data is any set of data that does not contain personally identifiable information. This essentially means that no individual or living person can be identified by examining this data. The incentive to mine non-personal data was first proposed by a government committee led by Infosys co-founder Kris Gopalakrishnan, which was set up to unlock the economic value of such data and also address concerns who as a result.
Among the stated goals of the policy are the modernization of government data collection, with the aim of improving governance and enabling a research and startup ecosystem based on artificial intelligence (AI) and data in the country. Once finalized, the policy will be applicable to all central government departments as well as all non-personal data sets and related standards and rules governing its access by startups and researchers. State governments will be “encouraged” to adopt the provisions of the policy, according to the draft.
The project also calls for the establishment of an Indian Data Management Office (IDMO), which will be responsible for designing and managing the India Datasets platform that will process requests and provide access to non-personal datasets to Indian researchers and startups. The IDMO “will prescribe rules and standards, including anonymization standards for all entities (government and private) that process data that will cause each government ministry/department/organization to identify and classify available datasets and to build a dynamic, diverse and broad database. datasets for research and innovation,” according to the project. For security and trust reasons, any sharing of non-personal data by an entity can only be done through platforms designated and authorized by IDMO, he added.
In what appears to be a potential preventative measure against the new project which is running into privacy issues, MeitY said IDMO will define and publish data anonymization standards and rules to “ensure privacy informations”.
Industry experts, meanwhile, pointed out that several contours – such as the composition of IDMO and the process by which data housed in the India Datasets program can be accessed by startups and researchers – do not were not specified in the new draft policy.
Experts also said private companies cannot voluntarily share non-personal data. “There may be trade and intellectual property issues, so private companies may not be sharing at least sets of non-personal data that are essential to their business,” said a seasoned industry professional. .