Indian IT Minister signals reversal of data sovereignty plan • The Register

India’s IT minister has hinted that a revised data protection law will drop the requirement for sovereign data storage – satisfying big tech companies that have railed against onshore storage.

In an interview with the Indian newspaper The economy time Electronics and Information Technology Minister of State Rajeev Chandrasekhar said cross-border data flows are permitted by law.

The law is controversial because the government scrapped a bill earlier this year after spending two years getting it through Parliament.

This draft included strict regulation of cross-border data traffic.

Big Tech hates such limitations. The Asia Internet Coalition – a lobby group with members from Facebook, Google, Amazon, LinkedIn, Yahoo! and other tech giants – devotes a section of its website to opposing the restriction of cross-border data traffic.

All of the documents in this section suggest that data should flow freely across borders.

A letter from January 2022 [PDF] from the coalition to Indian politicians and bureaucrats opposed the restrictions on cross-border data flows in the stalled bill.

The Coalition’s argument is that companies need the free flow of data across borders so they can use offshore SaaS and cloud services, and that asking companies what data needs to stay on land and what data is sent to the cloud is unproductive can become. Literally, the letter predicts “higher business failure rates… more expensive product offerings from existing market players” and a reduced ability for “Indian consumers to access a truly global internet and quality of service.”

A month ago, the coalition wrote a very similar letter [PDF] to the Vietnamese government. Vietnam is proposing to require data storage on land, and the coalition argues that this will hamper the development of its digital and physical economies.

The coalition is not alone in promoting such ideas. In August 2022, think tank The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace released a report that suggested that India and South Korea should allow cross-border traffic to boost their economies and demonstrate that they are part of a bloc of like-minded democracies that unite allow free flow of data.

Autocracies like Russia and China don’t like to share data describing their citizens abroad. Beijing recently enacted strict laws restricting cross-border exchanges. Moscow did the same.

said Chandrasekhar The economy time He now believes that “the internet is global and has data as its underlying fundamental element. For a robust internet innovation ecosystem, there must be data flow.” The minister also reportedly said the Indian government will be content to allow data to go abroad as long as it remains accessible to local officials and safety standards are met.

All of this suggests that Big Tech’s arguments have taken root in India – the second most populous nation in the world and one where companies like Google, Amazon and Meta are all struggling hard to expand their operations and collect more data that describe the citizens. ® Indian IT Minister signals reversal of data sovereignty plan • The Register

Rick Schindler

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