E-com firms take up data localisation issues with Goyal

Also flag data provisions in draft e-commerce policy

June 18, 2019 10:02 pm | Updated 10:51 pm IST - NEW DELHI

Piyush Goyal.

Piyush Goyal.

E-commerce companies on Monday voiced their concerns about the Reserve Bank of India’s data localisation norms with Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal.

They also highlighted the data-related provisions of the draft e-commerce policy during the meeting. Mr. Goyal asked them to submit their concerns in writing within 10 days and assured them that his Ministry would take them on board.

‘Towards a framework’

“The meeting was held by [Mr.] Piyush Goyal in order to understand their concerns and take their suggestions towards building a robust data protection framework that will achieve the dual purpose of privacy and innovation and strengthen India’s position as a global tech leader with focus on trust and innovation,” the Commerce Ministry said in a statement.

Some of the companies also raised concerns about the draft e-commerce policy released by the government, especially provisions related to treatment of data.

“For example, we tried to explain to them that the provision that the government should have the sovereign right over all data at all times was unviable,” the CEO of one of the companies present at the meeting told The Hindu . “For many businesses that is the only intellectual property that they have. I think, on the aggregate data point, they are coming around.”

The other issue was the government’s demand for data from companies, where the companies argued that the data should be shared only for law and order and investigation situations.

“Citizens, however, should have full right over the individual private data they share with the company and the company must be held accountable for protecting the same,” Sachin Taparia, founder and chairman of LocalCircles said. “Also, the government should be able to request aggregate data in law, order and enforcement situations and the companies must comply.”

The third data-related issue raised was that companies cannot share their data with their group companies.

“The argument made was that if a start-up is acquired by a multinational company, then it becomes a part of that company,” the CEO said. “If you say that the start-up cannot share its data with the parent company, then nobody will want to acquire Indian start-ups at all.”

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