January 15, 2020 By King
New Delhi: The government on Tuesday sought suggestions from information technology and ecommerce companies to attract investment in data storage infrastructure as a precursor to a national policy on ecommerce.
In a meeting with around 20 companies and industry associations, the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) also asked Amazon, Microsoft and WiproNSE -3.79 % to compile challenges and possible solutions for data storage, and come back to the department in two weeks. “Some 20-odd companies were there, and we took inputs on data storage. All these will become part of the ecommerce policy,” said an official who was present at the meeting.
Company officials and industry representatives said the meeting was about creating and bringing in investment in data storage infrastructure. “The government wants to build India as a data hub and invite other countries to host their servers here,” said a company official who attended the meeting. Another executive said, “The government insisted on data localisation and asked companies to think about incentives to attract investment to the sector. They want all Indian data to rest here.” The issue of social media companies not giving straightforward access to information to law enforcement agencies also came up during the meeting.
Certain foreign companies are learnt to have told the government that there is confusion over India’s data protection policies and they have already approached the US government for faster resolution of these issues. Data related issues were part of the India-US trade deal talks, whose momentum has slowed in the last few weeks.
The meeting assumes significance as DPIIT is working to release the national ecommerce policy by March. The department had in February last year released a draft national ecommerce policy, proposing granting the ‘infrastructure status’ to data storage services such as data centres, server firms, towers, tower stations, equipment, optical wires, signal transceivers and antennae. Representatives from companies including Google, HCL, InfosysNSE -1.33 %, Wipro, Amazon, Microsoft, Reliance, Google, Udaan and TCS participated in the deliberations, along with officials from various industry bodies, including Nasscom, Ecommerce Council of India, Informational Technology Industry Council, CII, Assocham and Ficci.
Software industry body Nasscom sought infrastructure status for data centres and stressed the need of data infra in city planning. “Called out #Infrastructure status to #datacentres etc, need of data infra in city planning, easing laying fibre @DoT_India. Let #PDPbill, #NPDcommittee drive the basic data framework,” Nasscom tweeted through its Nasscom Public Policy handle. An industry representative who attended the consultation said the meeting discussed telecom-related issues such as connectivity and capacity expansion of data centres, and the telecom department’s regulations on setting up data centres close to each other.
PERSONAL DATA OVERLAP
Since the draft policy includes several provisions related to data, DPIIT is also studying the Personal Data Protection Bill. “Some people said there is an overlap with the Personal Data Protection Bill,” said an official from an ecommerce company. Several foreign ecommerce firms have raised concerns over some points in the draft pertaining to data. The Personal Data Protection Bill spells out a framework for handling of personal data including its processing by public and private entities. A company may have to pay a penalty if found violating norms under the bill.