NEW DELHI:India may allow data mobility outside India only if the move is reciprocated by other countries, information technology and telecom minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said on Friday.

Prasad, who is also law and justice minister, however, cautioned that the country’s data sovereignty will be ‘non-negotiable’. “India will uphold its data sovereignty. That will not be negotiable. India is a huge country, generating a lot of data. I do acknowledge that some degree of data movement is important in a digital world, but that will be based upon reciprocity and understanding,” Prasad said at a Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) event.

He said India will look at issues of data anonymity and data vulnerability, which will be areas of dispute in the future, while emphasising on the importance of data security by both local and foreign agencies. “Data is going to become an important area of growth, commerce and vulnerable area of dispute. Data protection law we have finalised. I will take it to the cabinet,” Prasad said. “I feel data anonymity should also be kept in focus. Anybody, Indian or international, seeking to indulge in data commerce will have to follow the rules of the game.”

The government will take the personal data protection law to the cabinet soon, which will be followed by a final approval from Parliament. The draft of Personal Data Protection Bill, 2018—which is based on the recommendations of the government-constituted high-level panel headed by Justice BN Srikrishna— restricts and imposes conditions on cross-border transfer of personal data, and suggests setting up of Data Protection Authority of India to prevent misuse of personal information. Prasad said other nations are awaiting the provisions of India’s data protection law as many are not happy with the European data protection rules.

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He reiterated the government’s aim to make India a $1 trillion digital economy in the next four to five years. On India’s preparedness to deal with a US-China-like trade war, Prasad said the matter is a sensitive one and that “we must observe it closely, properly. Something good will come for India, because globally people trust India’s human resource, India’s open society, India as a country (has) great substance and sanctity.” Prasad said the country’s focus should now be on areas like software production, cyber security, ecommerce, electronics manufacturing and smart manufacturing, communication and data analytics.





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