Data ownership, a bone of contention

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The ownership of aggregate data remains a bone of contention between the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) and stakeholders, including start-ups and SMEs, in the ongoing consultations over the draft e-commerce policy. The issue had come up for discussion during a recent meeting between industry representatives and DPIIT officials.

While the draft e-commerce policy stated, “India and its citizens have a sovereign right to their data… Even after anonymisation, the interests of the individual cannot be completely separated from the derivatives that may be obtained by analysing and drawing inferences from a certain set of data,” some of the technology firms that The Hindu spoke to said that they invest capital and resources to collect this data. Hence, so saying that it also belongs to the citizens is unfair.

Sachin Taparia, founder and chairman, LocalCircles confirmed, “One key area where we have a difference of opinion is in the ownership of aggregate data which, for many start-ups, is the only IP. So, we will work with DPIIT in the coming months to bridge this gap.”

Concerns on source code

Mr. Taparia added that the concerns were raised over government reserving the right to seek disclosure of source code and algorithms. “We have sought that the government should only have the right to seek aggregated data, source code and algorithms only in case of law and order or investigation situations and they have taken note of it.”

The policy added that business models of companies are increasingly centered around data with targeted advertisements and personalised recommendations “as a means to attain competitive advantage… the importance of ownership of data must not be undermined.”

The government put out the draft e-commerce policy in February and had invited comments from all stakeholder till March 29.

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Printable version | Aug 2, 2021 7:15:11 PM |

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