Centre for Internet & Society

The Indian government's attempts to ensure that companies adhere to data localisation norms will spawn similar requests from other countries, Michael Dell, the founder and chief executive of Dell Technologies, said.

The blog post by Anand J. was published in VCCircle on October 17, 2018.

However, he acknowledged that the country's concerns are genuine given the privacy and security implications of data. "If you don’t know where your data is or it has gotten into the wrong hands, it can be a very, very dangerous problem," Dell told The Economic Times. He added, "I would not be surprised if pretty much every country in the world creates something like this."

Dell's comments come in the backdrop of India's draft Personal Data Protection Bill, data localisation efforts and data mirroring requirements for payment firms as required under the diktat by the Reserve Bank of India.

Under the RBI direction, even the multinationals like Visa and MasterCard have to ensure that Indian customer data is stored locally. Though the last date for these companies to comply with the directive expired on Monday, the central bank will not penalise them as of now.

In the interview, Dell also acknowledged that information is more valuable than applications and problems will arise when data gets leaked or compromised. "Every business at the end of the day is based on some kind of trust or assurance," he told ET.

However, industry lobby Nasscom and internet watchdog Centre for Internet and Society had told TechCircle that some of the data localisation norms are rather strict and will prevent internet businesses from being truly open and free.

"Data localisation mandates should be narrowly tailored. Ideally, data should be localised based on the sector. For instance, military, intelligence and law enforcement might need strict localisation rules. There is no policy objective that will be served by localising social media data," CIS director Sunil Abraham had told TechCircle in an interview some months ago.

Nasscom's policy director Ashish Aggarwal told TechCircle that the industry lobby did not see the recommendations as a balanced approach in terms of localisation. "If imposed, this will cause a disproportionate cost to the industry," he had said.

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