Editorial Notes

[Editorial Notes] Taking national data seriously

India must not trade away its national data rights at the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership negotiations.
By IASToppers
October 28, 2019


  • Introduction
  • Importance of data sharing
  • Community data
  • What should be done to curb inappropriate use of community data?
  • RCEP free flow data policy
  • Conclusion
  • IT’s Input

Taking national data seriously

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  • The Prime Minister recently compared data to property at the advent of the industrial era. Data is being considered as a nation’s new wealth.
  • In the wake of global digital or artificial intelligence (AI) economy, it is feared that the European Union (EU) and major developing countries such as India, will have to become fully digitally dependent on either U.S. or China.

national data

  • Today, seven of the top eight companies by market cap globally are data-based corporations. A decade back, this list was dominated by industrial and oil giants.

Importance of data sharing

  • India’s NITI Aayog’s AI strategy focuses on more data-sharing and better access to data for domestic businesses. However, appropriate data policies must ensure that the required data is actually available to Indian digital businesses.

data sharing

  • Moreover, Giant global digital treat their collected data from Indian people as their private property and refuse to share it, even for important public interest purposes.
  • This problem can be addressed by asserting a community’s legal right over data that is derived from the community concerned. This is the concept of community data inscribed in India’s draft e-commerce policy.

Community data

  • A data on specific community provides deep intelligence about that community and those personal data can be used to manipulate that community. Hence, the basis of a digital economy is to employ such data-based intelligence to reorganize and coordinate different sectors.
  • However, this data-based community intelligence can also be used cause harm to the community, if in the hands of an untrusted or exploitative party. Hence, communities should effectively regulate intelligence about them.

What should be done to curb inappropriate use of community data?

  • Effective community control over its data.
  • Classification of various kinds of data and Developing governance frameworks around them.
  • Addressing complex data policy issues data ownership rights, data sharing, data trusts

RCEP free flow data policy

  • The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) trade negotiations, which is likely to signed by 2020, may accept free data flow policies.


  • However, if India signs such policy, India will give up any chances for using Indian data for India’s development, and India will be laying the path for permanent digital dependency, with India’s data flowing freely to data intelligence centres in the U.S.
  • Not signing the RCEP free flow data policy means that a country retains complete control over its data policy while boosting digital industrialisation as well.


  • In some important areas, the community data concerned requires close regulation, which includes accessing data for social purposes and ensuring that important public interest is met in various uses of data.
  • However, to take decision on whether to sign RCEP free data flow agreement or not in hurry before pondering on India’s options even before it discovers and decide the right data and digital polices and path will be extremely unwise.

IT’s Input

To know more about RCEP and India’s apprehensions on it, Click here : https://www.iastoppers.com/rstv-big-picture-indias-world-rcep-challenges-way-forward/


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