Facebook’s Nick Clegg meets Amit Shah, Ajit Doval; says data akin to water

September 12, 2019 10:09 pm | Updated December 03, 2021 08:12 am IST - New Delhi

India has been pressing social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter to share encryption keys and install servers here to help track ‘harmful’ content.

India has been pressing social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter to share encryption keys and install servers here to help track ‘harmful’ content.

Facebook Vice-President, Global Affairs and Communications, Nick Clegg met Home Minister Amit Shah at his North Block office on Thursday.

Mr. Clegg also met National Security Advisor Ajit Doval during the day, said officials, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“Former Deputy Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Global Vice President of Facebook & Instagram, Mr @nick_clegg, called on Union Home Minister Shri @AmitShah,” the Ministry of Home Affairs tweeted.

India has been pressing social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter to share encryption keys and install servers here to help track ‘harmful’ content.

‘Rights of individuals’

Speaking at an event, Mr. Clegg said data sharing was crucial for national security as India right now found itself “locked out” of major global data-sharing initiatives aimed at clamping down on serious crime and terrorism, Press Trust of India reported.


India should create a new template for the Internet that “respects the rights of individuals to choose what happens to their data; one that encourages competition and innovation; and one that remains open and accessible for everyone,” he said.

Chairman of Reliance Industries Mukesh Ambani had stated that “data is the new oil” as he propagated the protection of Indian users’ data generated through use of Internet as well as social media platforms, saying the country’s data must be controlled and owned by Indian people and not by corporates, especially global corporations.

“There are many in India and around the world who think of data as the new oil and that, like oil having a great reserve of it held within your national boundaries, will lead to sure fire prosperity. But this analogy is mistaken,” Mr. Clegg said.

“Data isn’t oil, a finite commodity to be owned and traded, pumped from the ground and burned in cars and factories. Of course, no analogy is perfect, but a better liquid to liken it to is water, with the global Internet like a great borderless ocean of currents and tides,” he said.

The value of data, he said, comes not from “hoarding it” or trading it like a finite commodity, but from allowing it to flow freely and encouraging the innovation that comes from that free flow of data — the algorithms and the services and the intelligence that can be built on top of it.

“It is that innovation that has the potential to bring much greater wealth to India and it is that innovation that will place India, with its entrepreneurial society and its bedrock of engineering talent, at the forefront of the global Internet for decades to come,” he said.

“The global Internet is built on this principle of cross-border data flows just as the global economy relies on capital, human resources and technological innovation to cross borders in order to flourish,” he said.

Stating that it was not just the global economy that relies on data sharing across borders, he said data-sharing was crucial for national security too.

“Yet, right now India finds itself locked out of major global data-sharing initiatives aimed to clamp down on serious crime and terrorism, like the Clarifying Lawful Overseas Use of Data (CLOUD) Act and the Budapest Convention on Cybercrime,” he said.

The remarks came amid a raging debate in the country over whether data of Indians is safe with foreign companies, as the government is working on crafting data protection rules. The Reserve Bank of India last year imposed data localisation norms on foreign fintech companies to locally store the data of Indians.

(With inputs from PTI)

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