HEADLINES:
October 18 2019
‘Let Indians have control of their data’
19 January 2019

RIL chairman Mukesh Ambani flags concerns about increasing data colonisation by global corporates

Flagging concerns about increasing data colonisation by global corporations, Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani on Friday urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to take steps against the way some global corporations were ‘colonising data’ of Indian users in the rapidly growing digital economy in the country.

He also insisted that Indian data must be owned by Indians.

Addressing the Vibrant Gujarat Global Investors Summit, Mr. Ambani said “data is a new oil and new wealth” and therefore must be “controlled and owned by Indian people and not by corporates, especially global corporations.”

Citing Mahatma Gandhi’s movement against political colonisation during the struggle for Independence, Mr. Ambani said India now needed a new movement against data colonisation, especially against global corporations colonising data of Indian users.

“Gandhiji led India’s movement against political colonisation. Today, we have to collectively launch a new movement against data colonisation,” he said, adding “For India to succeed in this data driver revolution, we will have to migrate the control and ownership of Indian data back to India — in other words, Indian wealth back to every Indian.”

Calling the Prime Minister a ‘man of action’, Mr. Ambani urged him to make the movement against data colonisation one of the principal goals of the Digital India mission.

Growing demand

This is the second time in a month, Mr. Ambani has thrown his weight behind a growing demand from the authorities and a section of local corporates seeking companies to store data of Indian consumers locally.

Last month, Mr. Ambani, chairman of the country’s largest conglomerate with interests in energy to telecom, had said data of an individual or business belonged to them and not to corporates who could use it to monetise from them.

It may be noted that the Indian government wants companies doing business in India to store all customer data locally, a demand some global corporations are not inclined to comply with.

Besides the Centre, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), in April 2018, ordered companies to store the “the entire data relating to payment systems operated by them... in a system only in India” so as to ensure “unfettered supervisory access” for “better monitoring.” Global Internet giants like Google had complained about the six-month deadline.

The Union Government has been considering a draft data security law that requires data centres for all companies to be physically located within India to store data of Indian consumers.

 

 

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