A government delegation of the United States — led by Matt Murray, Senior Bureau Official in the Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs of the Department of State — has raised concerns on certain aspects on cross-border flow of data in the Data Protection Bill proposed by India, sources in know of the matter said.
At the annual meeting of the India-US working group on information and communication technology (ICT), the US delegation highlighted that the proposed Bill had some limiting factors when it came to cross-border flow of personal and non-personal data as well as storage of data located in servers outside Indian borders, the sources said.
The working group also discussed aspects of standardisation of 5G technology, an industry official who attended the meeting said. The Indian government delegation was led by Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology Secretary Ajay Sawhney.
The working group on ICT, which was started in 2005 after a summit between former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and former US President George Bush, meets on an annual basis in India or the US to discuss various aspects of co-operation in the space of information and communication.
This is the second time the US delegation has raised this issue. At the working group’s last meeting, held in October 2020, a senior delegate from the US government had suggested that the two nations should discuss critical issues such as how a company could safely move personal as well as non-personal data across borders without it being compromised in any manner.
“This year some of the delegates from India suggested establishment of a bilateral platform in which industry voices can also participate so that the mechanism is updated regularly,” a source said. Industry officials from the US too raised the issue and requested the Indian government to hold wider consultations before the Data Protection Bill is introduced in Parliament.
“Building on this dialogue, we ask the government to hold a wider stakeholder consultation before the revised Data Protection Bill is introduced in parliament. There are several novel proposals which have been suggested by the Joint Parliamentary Committee which require further deliberation and input from impacted stakeholders,” said Kumar Deep, India country manager for Information Technology Industry (ITI) Council.
Last December, the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Personal Data Protection Bill tabled its final report in Parliament. The Bill, which now includes non-personal data in its ambit, will simply be known as Data Protection Bill.
It was first introduced by former Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on December 11, 2019, in Lok Sabha and immediately referred to the standing committee on December 16 the same year. The committee’s report was presented in the Lok Sabha by its chairperson PP Chaudhary and laid in the Rajya Sabha by Congress MP Jairam Ramesh.