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Data localisation must stay in e-commerce rules: Swadeshi Jagran Manch

RSS affiliate backs US line against allowing Huawei for 5G deployment in India.

, ET Bureau|
Jun 27, 2019, 07.32 AM IST
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Ashwani Mahajan, SJM National Co-convenor
NEW DELHI: The Centre should retain its e-commerce norms on storing data locally, RSS affiliate Swadeshi Jagran Manch has said. SJM’s letter to the government coincided with the visit of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who is expected to reiterate Washington’s position that New Delhi should not insist that e-commerce data be stored within India. SJM, however, favoured the US line against allowing Huawei for 5G deployment in India.

In a 16-point note, detailing its comments and suggestions on the draft e-commerce policy to the commerce ministry on Wednesday, SJM objected to any attempt to remove data localisation clauses from the policy, ET has learnt. There were news reports that the e-commerce policy may not deal with data storage as the proposed data protection bill would deal with it comprehensively.

“Reference to ‘data’ should not be eliminated from the policy on the ground that the same will be defined and explained in the proposed personal data protection bill, 2018. Personal data and commerce are directly and closely linked to each other,” the SJM note said. SJM national co-convenor Ashwani Mahajan also tweeted on Wednesday, tagging commerce minister Piyush Goyal: “Dear @PiyushGoyalji this has been reported ‘Piyush Goyal has decided to keep data localisation norms out of the final policy, leaving...” is this correct? Do you think MEITY can handle issues like commercial data, beyond privacy?”

The SJM note emphasised that the policy should provide for “location of data servers in India, prohibit use of sensitive personal data (including genetic and health data) and restrict personal data (including financial data) for business purposes by the entity or its associates.” Cross-border transfer of data should be prohibited, SJM said. The US has sought softening of stance on data localisation and is pitching data flow across borders.

“Bringing in Huawei will give it access to the entire telecom network and data of the country. The ‘back door’ pact is meaningless. What sanctity or guarantee does such an instrument have,” asked Mahajan while talking to ET. Huawei has offered to sign a ‘no-backdoor agreement’, which will stipulate that it will not allow any snooping on its network or transferring data.

“This must be viewed in the long term, with the country’s security and economy in mind. We are not against 5G or new technology, but will we just keep importing or try to build capacity in the country? If you import 5G technology now, our domestic industry will be out of it for the next 15-20 years. China is expansionist in nature and this is part of its many moves to exercise some control over India. We must never allow it,” he added.

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