Will share anonymised data sets with Indian start-ups: Chandrasekhar

Updated on Oct 17, 2022 12:07 AM IST

The Indian government will share anonymised data sets collected and harmonised under the upcoming National Data Governance Framework with Indian start-ups and researchers to innovate systems and create better policy solutions, minister of state for information technology, Rajeev Chandrasekhar, told Hindustan Times.

Minister of state for information technology Rajeev Chandrasekhar. (ANI)
Minister of state for information technology Rajeev Chandrasekhar. (ANI)
ByDeeksha Bhardwaj, New Delhi

The Indian government will share anonymised data sets collected and harmonised under the upcoming National Data Governance Framework with Indian start-ups and researchers to innovate systems and create better policy solutions, minister of state for information technology, Rajeev Chandrasekhar, told Hindustan Times.

“It will be a far-reaching policy that will harmonize all independent silos of data, data management, data processing, so that standards and rules — how to store, manage access, control and security — will form an administrative part of the policy, and its first pillar, ” Chandrasekhar said. “It focuses on how to store, format and manage data.”

The policy has been sent to the cabinet of ministers for its final nod, the minister said. India so far has no policy to govern anonymised, or non-personal data. A committee was set up to review the matter under former Infosys CEO Kris Gopalakrishnan. It submitted its report last year.

These standards will be set by the India Data Management Office, Chandrasekhar said. The framework policy is working on ways to store and share the data, he added.

The draft policy, as reported first by HT on April 9, elaborates on the overall objective of the new framework. “(It will aim to ensure) greater citizen awareness, participation, and engagement with open data, increase the availability of datasets of national importance, and identify datasets suitable for sharing and improve overall compliance to secure data sharing and privacy policies and standards,” the draft said.

It will also be the “first step in catalysing the era of Digital Government”, which will provide “greater scope for better, more informed decision making… while adhering to the highest data protection standards and commitment to the principles of data privacy,” said the draft.

A core component of the data governance framework will be the formation of an India Data Management Office (IDMO) under the IT ministry.

The policy reform, Chandrasekhar stressed, was that the anonymized data sets will be offered as part of the India data sets programmes to the artificial intelligence ecosystem, which will be an enabler for the digital economy. “Data sets that represent India’s consumers is a huge opportunity for the next generation of artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms,” the minister said. “It is an estimated opportunity of more than $200-$500 billion, if leveraged properly.”

The data sets will be provided for governance research, which even the government can use to create better targeted policies. “This will include the ability to use AI to identify how different parts of the country need different types of schemes and different forms of schemes. A district in Jharkhand has very different needs than a district in Uttar Pradesh,” Chandrasekhar said. “This can help in figuring out what policies are required for which district.”

“The policy has tremendous applications that will make the next generation of governance to be more impactful, efficient, targeted and with more lasting outcomes, making India a global leader in the field,” he added.

Any such governance framework will have to take note of existing constitutional and statutory protections and retain focus on rights of data subjects, said Supreme Court lawyer NS Nappinai, founder of CyberSaathi, a non-profit working on digital safety.

“The assurances voiced have to be spelt out or implemented through enforceable mechanisms and each aspect of the proposal has to be undertaken with responsible governance thinking through and providing against risks and vulnerabilities,” she said.

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