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Digital revolution cannot be killed in the name of ‘privacy’: Ravi Shankar Prasad

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Data is important for the research and growth of the country and it should not be hindered in the name of privacy, said Union Minister of Electronics and Information and Technology Ravi Shankar Prasad.

He explained that the new data protection law is setting a global benchmark, but whether it will hamper the digital revolution in the name of privacy or not, is uncertain.

 “India missed the impact of the industrial revolution for a variety of reasons. We don’t wish to lose the digital revolution. On the contrary, we in India want to become the leaders in digital revolution,” said Prasad, while addressing a session at on privacy and data at the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi.

Speaking about privacy concerns with regards to data, Prasad said that it is necessary to consider things taking the interest of data availability for growth and research and data privacy into account.

“This information technology revolution has to be respected and also has to be accelerated. In this larger framework we have to consider the issue of privacy. Data must be made available,” he added.

“We will come up with a data protection law that will set a global benchmark like the way we have done for Aadhaar,” Prasad said.

He announced that the Central Government has formulated a committee to provide a structured report on data utility, data privacy and data availability.

“The committee is to give a report in three months. I want to assure you that we respect data sovereignty of Indians but we also appeal to Indians that your data must be made available also for legitimate concerns, legitimate interest and for development of India,” Prasad said.

Speaking about the Centre’s idea of supporting the start-ups under the “start-up revolution”, he said that around five start-ups daily are getting support in the form of incentives from the government. He also highlighted the importance of Artificial intelligence, data mining, and Internet of things as the agents to “empower India”.

 “I clearly foresee India is going to become a big centre of data research,” he said.

He further spoke about the government’s motive of bridging the gap between the digital haves and the have-nots.

Recalling the slogan coined by Prime Minister Narendra Modi “IT + IT = IT” and explaining its role, he said it signifies Information Technology plus Indian Talent equals to India Tomorrow.

Explaining the prominence of “digital economy” the minister said that the segment will soon reach the mark of $ 1 trillion worth and it is expected to create 50-75 lakh jobs in the next five to seven years.

“Today availability of data is important,” he said. Speaking about the balance between privacy concerns and data research, he said.

 “Should we go forward in the name of privacy to kill it? Should we stop it, or should we not stop? That is indeed the challenge,” he added.

Classifying the accomplishments of the government achieved in the last three years, Prasad said that 93 mobile manufacturing companies have invested in India and there is a lot of scope for medical, defence, automobile electronics in the country.

Explaining the Supreme Court’s judgment, the minister said the apex body had said the right to privacy was not an absolute right.

 “On behalf of the government we also said it (privacy) is not an absolute right but part of Article 21,” Prasad said.

He marked the apex court’s judgment on privacy was a landmark in the history of Indian judiciary.

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