A chance for India to shape a data governance regime
GS 2 Government Policies & Interventions
- In recent years, India has made great strides in its digital strategies and data governance.
- Data governance is the process of managing the availability, usability, integrity, and security of data in enterprise systems in accordance with internal data standards and policies that also govern data usage.
- Effective data governance ensures that data is reliable, consistent, and not mishandled.
Significance of data governance in India:
- India has embraced technology and digitalisation to drive economic growth and to improve the lives of its citizens.
- Significant progress has been made in the use of digital technologies to provide access to bank accounts and in the promotion of digital transactions through the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) and other options.
- However, as the country continues to evolve, it must also ensure that its digital strategies and data governance are inclusive, transparent, secure, and conducive to sustainable development.
Government’s key policies & frameworks on data governance:
- The Data Empowerment and Protection Architecture(DEPA):
- NITI Aayog has recently published the DEPA framework with data protection principles and architectural guidelines.
- It manages consent for purpose of empowerment & usage of data.
- DEPA is an evolvable and agile framework for good data governance along with introducing new institution types, and cutting edge technological building blocks to enable true data empowerment.
- Draft National Data Governance Framework Policy (NDGFP):
- Focus of the Policy:
- The proposed policy focuses on strengthening the institutional framework for:
- Government data sharing;
- Promoting privacy and security by design principles; and
- Encouraging the use of anonymization tools.
- To standardise the government’s data collection and management while fostering AI and data-driven research and an ecosystem for startups.
- India Data Management Office (IDMO):
- The proposal includes plans for establishing the India Data Management Office (IDMO) similar to the Federal Data Management Office in the United States.
- IDMO will be set up under Digital India Corporation for framing, managing and periodically revising the policy.
- The IDMO is tasked with supervising and coordinating the implementation of India’s digital strategies and data governance framework, and ensuring that these efforts are in line with the country’s values and priorities.
- This is an excellent opportunity for India to develop solutions that other nations can adopt and adapt.
- Open source and open innovation models can be significant alternatives to proprietary solutions governed by major technology corporations.
Data Management Units (DMUs):
- According to the proposal, each ministry will have a data management unit (DMU). Each DMU will be led by a Chief Data Officer.
- They will be responsible for carrying out the data governance policy.
Issues & challenges
- DEPA poses risks, particularly in terms of security and privacy. If the consent management tool is not properly implemented or managed, there is a risk that personal information will be misused or misappropriated.
- Additionally, there are concerns that the implementation of DEPA may be inconsistent across different sectors and jurisdictions, which could undermine its effectiveness and create confusion among citizens.
- While the advancements in financial inclusion and the successful implementation of the UPI in India are commendable, it remains to be seen whether these advancements can be successfully replicated in other fields, such as health and agriculture.
- For instance, in the health sector, there is a risk that sensitive medical information could be misused or exploited for commercial purposes, whereas in agriculture, there is a risk that market information could be manipulated for the benefit of certain actors. o There are also concerns regarding security and privacy on the one hand, and infrastructure, connectivity, and the availability of a skilled human workforce on the other.
- Furthermore, there are concerns regarding the possible misuse of data and information in these industries.
- Another issue is that of ownership
- and governance of data generated and collected in health and agriculture.
- Data sovereignty:
- Data sovereignty has become an issue of increasing significance.
- The term “data sovereignty” refers to the principle that a country has the right to control the collection, storage, and use of data within its borders, as well as citizens’ informational autonomy over their data.
Suggestions & way ahead
- For DEPA:
- It is crucial that DEPA is implemented in a transparent, consistent, and secure manner in order to maximise its potential benefits and minimise its potential risks.
- This will necessitate
- close collaboration between the government, the private sector, civil society, and other interested parties and
- the formulation of transparent and efficient regulations and standards
- India must strike a balance between restrictive data sovereignty and limitless data flow, and define which data, for what purposes, can be shared and utilised by whom.
Protecting right to privacy:
- In doing so, India must respect and protect the fundamental right to privacy with a robust data protection law, and balance the interests of all stakeholders, including governments, businesses, and citizens for the goal of sustainable development.
Data governance policy:
- India requires the development of clear, transparent and accountable data governance policies and regulations as well as investment in the necessary digital infrastructure and skills to ensure that data is collected, stored, and used in a responsible, secure and accountable manner.
- The concerns must be addressed through strong and robust data protection regulations, the development of ethical and responsible data governance practices, as well as effective and accountable oversight mechanisms.
Daily Mains Question
It is important for India to navigate a middle way between restrictive data sovereignty and limitless data flow. Analyse. Suggest ways for effective data governance policy framework in India.