In September 2019, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology appointed a committee of experts to recommend a framework to regulate non-personal data ("NPD") in India. The Committee had released the first version1 of its report in July 2020, and invited comments from stakeholders.
Our response recognizes the need to redistribute value in the data economy, but argues that alternative frameworks anchored in competition policy may be a more productive place to start. We suggest three pathways - update competition law to include control over data and network effects; platform neutrality to ensure Big Tech platforms cannot unfairly discriminate other businesses; and platform interoperability to enable consumer choice and reduce the weight of network effects. Data trusts are an important area for further research and policy experimentation, but there are many unresolved complex questions ( eg.community representation) that need to be considered.
In our response, we highlight the difficulty in distinguishing between personal and non-personal data, because of the many ways in which data can relate to an individual. We also note the challenges around data anonymisation, and the ways in which even anonymised data can infringe on people's right to privacy and self-determination.The framework also risks enabling overreach by the state and could also stifle business innovation and healthy markets, if benefits accrue to primarily larger players in the market.
(This response was authored by the team at Tandem Research, the former home of the Responsible Technology Initiative. )