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October 15 too soon for data localisation, says Data Security Council of India's Rama Vedashree

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Even as the humdrum surrounding privacy and the prospect of a data protection law continues to simmer, the top boss of the Data Security Council of India (DSCI) has come down heavily on the Reserve Bank of India's (RBI) October 15 deadline for digital payments companies to conform to data localisation requirements.

October 15 too soon for data localisation, says Data Security Council of India's Rama Vedashree
Even as the humdrum surrounding privacy and the prospect of a data protection law continues to simmer, the top boss of the Data Security Council of India (DSCI) has come down heavily on the Reserve Bank of India's (RBI) October 15 deadline for digital payments companies to conform to data localisation requirements.
In an exclusive chat with CNBC-TV18, Rama Vedashree, also made a strong case for an expediting the introduction of a comprehensive data protection law, and explained why she continues to advocate against exclusive data localisation.
‘Wanted: Expedited Data Protection Law’
“It (data protection law) needs to be speeded up not only to protect personal data of Indians, but also we’re becoming a destination for the data management of other countries,” said Rama Vedashree, chief executive officer, Data Security Council of India, speaking exclusively to CNBC-TV18.
Given the time required to review consultations from external stakeholders, Vedashree believes that the law could take its course to be tabled as an act, the need for speed notwithstanding. “But I am given to understand from some quarters within the government that efforts are on, to table it in the winter session of parliament,” she said.
Vedashree also batted for a regulatory regime that enforces a system of compliance to the security law enacted by parliament, "Once the law is enacted a regulatory regime comes into being, there should be an enforcement mechanism to ensure everything falls into place.”
‘RBI’s Data Localisation Time Frame Too Constrained’
Amid fears of digital payments inability to meet the RBI's October 15 deadline for data localisation, Vedashree pointed out that the directive’s time frame was constrained in the first place.
“The directive was brought out in a very short time frame. A lot of discussions are happening (between companies and the finance ministry), and we will have to wait and watch what happens,” she said, "But for global digital payments players to conform to a guideline like this, the time frame they had was just too constrained.”
Vedashree added, "Given the current capability of data protection at various levels, there needs to be some time to build capability.”
‘Need To Be A Liberal Digital Economy’
Holding fast to her unflinching stance against exclusive data localisation, Vedashree said, "When you talk about a digital economy, the data that flows through it, flows through a global data grid, not through through the borders of one country.”
She added that scope for changes within existing RBI requirements vis-a-vis data localisation is still an open case — like the possibility of non-exclusive data localisation, “It’s something I have been advocating for a while.”
Calling for more liberalism in a digital economy, Vedashree added, “The Indian IT story has been built on free cross-border data flows. We should continue to a liberal economy in the area of digitisation."
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