Standards body proposes to bring new tech under its fold
Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) has proposed bringing technologies such as semiconductors, wearables, IT services, ICT and cybersecurity techniques under its fold, documents seen by HT show
The Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) has proposed bringing technologies such as semiconductors, wearables, IT services, Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) such as metaverse, and cybersecurity techniques under its fold, according to documents seen by HT.
The proposals are part of the latest draft Standards National Action Plan (Snap), a roadmap that will dictate future standards certifications and the specifications. A standard certification implies a product or a service, by its design and protocols, meets certain qualities. The latest version of the Snap roadmap includes healthcare, agriculture, water resources, textiles, transportation, electrical energy and power, petroleum, food, among others.
The draft guidelines classify electronics products and manufacturing — energy consumption rating, component manufacturing, semiconductor manufacturing, wearable devices and e-waste management — as high risk.
Digital technologies — artificial intelligence, blockchain and DLT (distributed ledger technologies), big data and geographic information systems — have been classified as medium risk, while IT security — data privacy, cybersecurity and mobile security guidelines — have been classified as high risk. ICT technologies — metaverse and smart cities— are classified as medium priority.
“These technologies are influencing our lives more than ever before. Technologies like AI, machine learning, IoT, big data, cloud computing, quantum computing, additive manufacturing, telecommunication technologies and many others are driving almost everything that we do today. Digital technologies are impacting society in terms of enabling access of public services to wider cross-sections of society, providing better livelihood and in building a more inclusive society,” the document states.
The draft adds that these technologies generate a large volume of data resulting in issues of data governance and data privacy. “Standards have been and would continue to be key facilitators in the integration of technologies and provide the mechanism for building trust on a digital and data driven economy by ensuring interoperability, reliability, security and privacy,” it states.
According to cybersecurity expert and Supreme Court lawyer, NS Nappinai, the entry of BIS into the tech world augurs new beginnings for India. “The hope would be that it would not drive tech development into a license raj but would balance development with safety and security,” she said.
“Snap proposes BIS’s role from manufacturing to processes and services. It is likely to impact how devices or even apps are manufactured / developed, including with respect to privacy standards and to security aspects of digital payments,” Nappinai said.
She added that with this wide spectrum of powers would come heavy responsibility to not only provide effective standards but to do so responsibly and in a balanced fashion.
The BIS Act, 2016, which came into force in 2017, gives wide powers to the authority and is not limited to just manufacturing.
The first Snap was introduced in 2019. The new changes have been proposed as part of draft Snap, 2022. Standards are the new patents and those who control standards, control markets, prices, processes, manufacturing and innovations, Union commerce minister Piyush Goyal said in his message on World Standards Day celebration organised at BIS headquarters said on October 14.
Kazim Rizvi, founder of the tech-policy think-tank the Dialogue, said the new draft indicates the importance of bringing interoperability, security, and privacy standards to build trust in the digital economy. “This is a welcome move as standards would aid the businesses in (a) compliance with some of the existing and upcoming digital laws, and (b) developing a consumer-first approach which could become a competitive advantage in future,” he said.
“However, to enable competitive advantage of the standards, BIS must consider (a) engaging with business and other stakeholders while developing the standards, (b) promoting them as a market tool amongst the businesses, and (c) creating awareness amongst the individuals such that they watch for these standards while using the technology.”
He added the while the plan emphasises using emerging technologies to innovate standardisation solutions, it should also consider using some of the existing innovations which might aid standardisation, like privacy-enhancing technologies.
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