A government-constituted committee headed by Infosys co-founder Kris Gopalakrishnan released the Non-Personal Data Protection Framework this month and is seeking public feedback up to August 12.
Non-Personal Data, according to the draft report, released on July 12, 2020, is any data that is not related to an identified or identifiable natural person or is personal data that has been anonymised. It has said that Non-Personal Data (NPD) should be regulated by a new regulatory body, the Non-Personal Data Authority (NPDA). This data will be further classified into three categories — public NPD, community NPD, and private NPD.
Here is an excerpt of an exclusive interaction with Kris Gopalakrishnan, co-founder of Infosys and Head of this committee on what the regulation around sharing of non-personal data means for India.
THE BIG QUESTION: Why is India one of the only, if not the sole country which is looking at crafting this unique position on non-personal data?
The government decided to set up the committee. There is a huge opportunity for India, where there are over 500 plus million mobile phones and people are generating large amounts of data. It requires a regulatory framework, and industry benefits form such rules and regulations.
NEW DATA AUTHORITY: While you have recommended separate non-personal data protection authority and given the role and responsibility, there is no clarity on who will constitute the committee. There is a mention of including people with industry experience, but otherwise, it is very vague. Could you throw some light on that?
The government will set up authority through regulation in the Parliament, just as the Personal Data Protection Bill. This will also go through as a Bill that will be passed by the Parliament, which is what I am given to believe.
We recommended a separate authority since non-personal data is different from personal data.
The non-personal data authority will increase economic activity around data to push innovation and entrepreneurship, so that value of sharing data increases.
We have said the authority should be harmonised with the personal data protection authority and Competition Commission of India. We have recommended that an industry representative should be part of the authority.
If business data can be taken away by the government, and the decision is that of a government body, how is this not nationalisation of data?
We are coming from the principle that sharing of data can help to build businesses. We are saying when a request comes for sharing of non-personal data, raw data should be shared. The government will not be taking away the data.
There has to be public good behind that request. For example, setting up a database for public health purposes or for traffic management.
DATA PRICING: While raw data has to be shared by companies free of cost, the committee has called for ‘fair and responsible’ remuneration as and when there is value-added processing. How will the pricing of this data be determined and will it be competitive?
The clarity that we allow anybody to use data will increase economic activity. I see data sharing as beneficial for large companies since the value of data increases when it is combined with multiple sources. For example, based on data from GPS on vehicles combined with businesses around the road and the weather at the time, there could be inferences for those businesses on how many vehicles pass by at a time.
DATA MARKET: The draft report by the committee also speaks of a data market? Could you highlight what the data market will look like?
The data market is a way for creating value-added data, run algorithms and invite people to use that data at a particular price. Raw data is just a phenomenon, only when you operate on that with algorithm does the value-add comes.
DATA OWNERSHIP: Who does data belong to? Does it belong to the companies collecting data, will it belong to the public?
The beneficial owner of community data is the community. The beneficial owner will be a city, say Bengaluru since the city can say they want data for the public good.
INVESTMENT SENTIMENT: Will sharing date hamper investments in companies where competitors can access raw data?
I don’t believe so. If a company is collecting data for business purposes, companies can price the value-add. For the larger public good, access to raw data can lead to innovation. For example, in COVID times, we are collecting a lot of different data, which is a public good. There will be significant benefits for private companies large and small.