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India now needs to build hardware capabilities, Meenakshi Lekhi

India, with its proven software prowess, now needs to aggressively build strong hardware capabilities as well, given the crucial role that hardware technologies play in handling and management of data in digital age, chairperson of Parliamentary Committee on Data Protection Bill and BJP MP Meenakshi Lekhi said on Saturday.

Lekhi noted that exponential rate at which data is being collected and consumed, and advent of new technologies like Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things and cloud computing have created an urgent need and legislative rigour for comprehensive framework on data protection.

Manipulation and “deception” in communication and data management can severely undermine democratic values and subvert the process of free and fair elections, she said and added that the proposed data protection legislation – in the works – is particularly relevant in the times of digital “stealth wars”.

“Your thought and data can be shared with someone else without you knowing about it. Algorithms could be collecting data that you probably never consented for…So deception in communication and data management and deception in manner of working is going to cause a damage to democracies, and it will be basically challenging the supremacy of free and fair elections, and thus we need to have some method of controlling this kind of…situation,” Lekhi said addressing a session on data privacy at SKOCH Summit.

It is pertinent to mention here that parliamentary committee examining the Personal Data Protection Bill has recommended 89 amendments to the proposed legislation, including changing its title and schedule.

The draft of the bill, approved by the Cabinet in December 2019, proposes to put restriction on use of personal data without explicit consent of citizens. Overall, it aims at safeguarding personal information, defining obligations of data processors as also rights of individuals, and proposes penalties for violation.

The bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha, and later it was referred to the Joint Committee of Parliament headed by BJP MP Lekhi.

Speaking at the data privacy session on Saturday, Lekhi said there are many who are unaware of the kinds of warring systems that exist in the digital ecosystem today.

“When you look around the systems, you see that we are dealing with an unfair system. Unfair not just in India but globally, there is lot of intellectual property theft which is going on right now stealthily, which people may not even know about,” she said.

India has proved its expertise in field of software, and the industry now needs to turn its attention to hardware side of the business too, she said.

“We have done very well in software, but I think in hardware, technology and manufacture…no data can be transferred unless there is a hardware which is transmitting it and there we are missing out…I want to bring industry on board, but please start getting into hardware, microchips, start building phones, building computers. Because no matter how successful you get in software…it is hardware, which is controlling the software,” she said. PTI

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