Govt. Will Try To Balance Privacy And Data Security: PM Modi To US CEOs

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday suggested that individuals have ownership of their personal data, stating that the government will strive to strike a balance between data security and privacy with openness.

The statement came during the PM’s meeting with over 40 global CEOs when IBM chief Ginni Rometty and Mastercard’s India-born head Ajay Banga raised the issue of data localisation, an issue of concern with some of the multinationals, who fear that they would face restrictions on transmitting data of millions of Indians and using it commercially.

There were suggestions that there should be a distinction in the treatment of personal and business data. The PM also pushed for investment in start-ups during the meeting. “Several companies have indicated large investment in the coming months,” said Guruprasad Mohapatra, secretary of the department for promotion of industry and internal trade.

In future, citizens will decide the way their data is used: Modi

During the closed-door meeting, Modi said that in future citizens would decide how they want their personal data to be used, including the possibility of opting to monetise it, but the government has not decided on the issue yet, months after it received a report from an expert committee headed by retired Supreme Court judge BN Srikrishna.

The PM’s discussions with global CEOs began with him asking the corporate chiefs to speak without hesitation. Modi said his government had just completed three months of its five-year term, indicating that his administration had time to implement the required changes based on inputs from heads of global corporations.

In fact, he said that inputs from Marriott pointing out that over 100 approvals were needed in India prompted the government to cut the time for regulatory clearances as part of the Ease of Doing Business initiative. The hotel chain’s president and CEO Arne Sorenson said easier rules for businesses were very crucial and suggested that there was a need to boost tourism within the country, something that Modi had touched upon in his Independence Day speech.

The PM responded by suggesting that Marriott could look at setting up a budget hotel near the Statue of Unity in Gujarat and also pitched for Pragati Maidan, which is being revamped, as another potential site for a property in the Capital, sources said. Responding to Coca-Cola CEO James Quincey’s concerns over the proposed ban on single-use plastic, Modi suggested that the soft drinks giant could enhance its investment in recycling facilities, which would help boost its brand image and cut down on its ad spend.

Several CEOs shared their experience of India with John Chambers suggesting that India was the best destination, while Blackstone chairman and co-founder Stephen Schwarzman stated that his company had seen the highest returns on its investment in India. Others such as Walmart International president Doug McMillon listed out the company’s operations in the country, especially after its $16 billion acquisition of Flipkart.

The PM’s meeting, after a pitch at the Bloomberg event earlier on Wednesday, came amid concerns over a slowdown in the economy and falling investment. Investment in manufacturing is seen to be crucial to create jobs in the country.―Times of India

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