Mandate for localisation should not stifle innovation: Rishad Premji

Batting for a “balanced” approach for India’s data protection framework, Nasscom President Rishad Premji has said the rules should ensure that innovation is not “stifled” by the focus on driving localisation.

He noted that while having a strong data security policy is important, it is also necessary to consider if localisation is the right solution.

“…I think we need to balance what is critical (data), what needs to reside (within India) exclusively, is localisation the right solution to security necessarily or not, and what is the trade off between innovation and growth… we have to think through those and balance those out fairly closely,” Premji told PTI.

He added that the mandate for housing data exclusively within Indian borders can impact innovation.

“…a mandate to have localisation of data exclusively can certainly have issues in terms of the innovativeness that it can drive. It can stifle in terms of new companies being built… it can stifle innovation and we have to think through that,” he said.

The draft personal data protection Bill — which was introduced recently — has drawn mixed response from the industry. While most have welcomed the overall framework, many have also raised concerns around provisions that include a mandate to set up local servers in India for storing “critical personal data” — a classification that will be done by the Centre.

This is likely to have implications for technology firms, especially those in areas like finance and healthcare that handle multitude of user data ranging from names and addresses to financial information.

Another policy in the works for the e-commerce sector in the country has similar mandates for localisation for data of Indian residents.

Premji — who is also Wipro‘s chief strategy officer — said Nasscom has provided its inputs and also suggested that clarity be brought in on classification of critical data.

Previously, Nasscom had said mandating localisation of all personal data could become a trade barrier in the key markets.

Also, startups from India that are going global may not be able to leverage global cloud platforms and face similar barriers as they expand in new markets, it had contended.


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