‘The idea is to have a separate and independent consultation on non-personal data, and decide the contours of how it should be regulated, whether as guidelines, rules, or a separate policy,’ said a senior official at MeitY.
The ministry of electronics and information technology on Friday constituted a committee under the chairmanship of Infosys co-founder Kris Gopalakrishnan to study issues related to non-personal data and suggest how the government should look at regulating it.
“There is a growing trend towards platformisation of the digital economy, and in such a platform economy, data could play a critical role as a community or public resource,” the ministry said.
Other members of the committee will be an additional or joint secretary from the department for promotion of industry and internal trade, National Association of Software and Services Companies president Debjani Ghosh, National Informatics Centre director General Neeta Verma, Avanti Finance chief technology officer Lalitesh Katragadda, Indraprastha Institute of Information Technology, Delhi, professor Ponnurangam Kumaraguru, IT for Change member Parminder Singh and joint secretary, MeitY, Gopalakrishnan S.
“The idea is to have a separate and independent consultation on non-personal data, and decide the contours of how it should be regulated, whether as guidelines, rules, or a separate policy,” said a senior official at MeitY.
There has been some confusion over whether non-personal or anonymised data will be a part of the Personal Data Protection Bill, which is yet to be tabled in the Parliament.
It was also reported that the ministry was considering a whitepaper that would form the basis for a wider consultation on non-personal data.
The first draft of the PDP Bill states, ‘Nothing contained in this Act shall affect the power of the Central Government to formulate appropriate policies for the digital economy, including measures for its growth, security, integrity, prevention of misuse, insofar as such policies do not govern personal data.’
After several delays, last month, the IT ministry wrote to a select group of individuals seeking clarifications on some points on how community, anonymous or e-commerce data could be regulated and whether there was a case for mandating free access to such data.
The issue of non-personal, community or anonymous data has appeared in several government policy proposals since the beginning of this year. The first draft of the e-commerce policy released by DPIIT in February dealt with the concept of "community data" in great detail.
It had likened the data of a country to a “collective resource, a national asset, that the government holds in trust, but rights to which can be permitted".
The Economic Survey in July built on that premise, and said, ‘Data is generated by the people, of the people and should be used for the people. As a public good, data can be democratised and put to the best possible use.’
In the Friday memo, the ministry said there was a "need to recognise the economic dimension of data and suitable taxonomy of data".
The freshly formed committee may co-opt other members for specific inputs and will try to submit a report as soon as possible, the memo said.