India is planning to allow different ministries and departments to share all data collected, generated, and stored (barring certain exceptions) among themselves as well as with companies, including start-ups, and individual researchers. The policy, the government says, aims to “transform India’s ability to harness public data for large-scale social transformation” among other benefits.
The Draft India Data Accessibility & Use Policy 2022 has been put up for public consultations on the MeitY (ministry of electronics and information technology) website and the last date for submission of inputs is March 18. This policy is seen as an upgrade to the National Data Sharing and Accessibility Policy (NDSAP) and the Open Government Data Platform India.
How will this be made possible?
All government units would create detailed, searchable data inventories with clear metadata and data tags. A regulatory authority, called the Indian Data Council (IDC), will be set up whose tasks will include defining frameworks for defining high-value datasets, finalising data standards and metadata standards. The nomination of departments and state governments in the IDC will be by rotation, with a tenure of two years for one department. An India Data Office (IDO) would oversee implementation and enforcement.
What kind of data will be shared and with whom?
Data could include every non-personal detail the government holds of the public, such as driving licence, car or home registration, ration card details, etc. Though the draft does not mention clearly what kind of data would be included. Start-ups, enterprises, individuals, and researchers will be able to access data through licensing within the frameworks of data security and privacy, the draft states. Each department will have to define the period for which data will be retained. The acquiring companies, departments or individuals would be mandated to cite the original source of data.
How will it help anyone?
The government hopes that detailed datasets that have undergone value addition could be monetised. Also, government-to-government information sharing would reduce duplication of data processing efforts as currently datasets are siloed with different departments. It would help companies, including start-ups, build products based on data. It would also help the government enable better delivery of citizen-centric services. It would help the government improve policymaking and monitoring.
What about pricing?
The draft policy states that minimally processed datasets would be available free of cost. However, if data has undergone value addition or transformation and is qualified for monetisation would they be priced. The quantum of price attached to such datasets hasn’t been spelt out as of yet.
Will this affect firms monetising such data?
The draft policy has not mentioned anything on mandating private sector firms to share data with the government. But the government starting such an exercise might be a worry for big tech firms mining such data for monetisation. If implemented, the government’s database would arguably have the most large-scale information of its citizens.
What about data privacy?
In March 2019, the government had announced a ‘bulk data sharing policy’ to monetise data gathered from citizens’ vehicle registration certificates and driving licences. The government hoped this would benefit the transport industry but the policy was rolled back in a year due to concerns over misuse.
This time, a background document for the draft policy talks about the Personal Data Protection Bill and Non-Personal Data Protection Framework but doesn’t state how the consent and anonymisation of an individual’s data will be dealt with. It only states that any data sharing shall happen within the legal framework of India, its national policies and legislation as well as recognised international guidelines.
First Published: IST