Sanctity of data is crucial in Indian democracy: Prasad

Sanctity of data is crucial in Indian democracy: Prasad
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NEW DELHI: IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad Friday said balance needs to be maintained when using consumer data to ensure that individual privacy does not get compromised and asserted that sanctity of data is crucial in the Indian democracy.
“…we need to have a blend of balance of data availability, of data utility, of data innovation, of data anonymity and data privacy,” he said at the Global Mobility Summit ‘MOVE’ here.
He further stated that India being a democracy, the sanctity of data is important, and so is the use of data for different purposes.
“…therefore while we are very proactive in the use of data analytics and are clear that India must become a very big centre of data analytics…but this must blend (with) the sanctity of data, blend with the rights of the owners of the data,” he said.
“How do you do it, is the larger question,” he noted.
Prasad highlighted that data analytics offers huge potential for India as the country has the required human resource, capabilities and capacity.
The minister said data is needed to improve business but that data must be anonymous, objective and taken with consent.
He said that while data analytics is projected to become “big and lucrative”, the process needs to have well-defined principles and adhere to stipulated standards with focus on fairness and transparency.
The issue of abuse of user data on technology platforms has been under scanner in India over the last few months and the government has resolved to take tough action to prevent any such misuse.
Earlier this year, social networking giant Facebook came under fire after data of its millions of users was improperly shared with another firm Cambridge Analytica. Taking a strong view of the issue, the Indian government had shot off notices to the two companies seeking explanation.
In fact, the CBI has recently initiated a preliminary enquiry against British political consultancy firm Cambridge Analytica for alleged illegal personal data harvesting of Indians from Facebook.
Prasad, during his recent visit to the US, had stated that India has taken “serious note” of reported data misuse of social media platforms and such tools will never be allowed to abuse the election process for extraneous means.
Also, a data protection framework is now being formulated to safeguard personal information, defining obligations of data processors as also rights of individuals, and mooting penalties for violation. Public feedback on this draft data protection bill has been sought.