Data: The Foundation of Intelligent Economies

India is on the cusp of implementing legislation that will govern the use of immense personal data caches being generated by nearly a fifth of the world’s population.

With the delivery of the JAM (Jan Dhan-Aadhaar-Mobile) trinity, the implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST), online filing of taxes, and the explosion of social media and online shopping, India potentially holds the largest personal data-cache in the world. And this is growing. Exponentially.

Personal data is the lifeblood of innovation, AI, and business in the 21st century. India’s steps to protect and regulate personal data is therefore timely. The approach that is adopted, however, is critical as it is not hyperbole to say that India’s Personal Data Protection Bill will have profound consequences for Indian and global stakeholders.

Following the publication of India’s draft Personal Data Protection Bill 2018, this report represents the UK India Business Council’s contribution to the debate as the voice of businesses in the UK-India corridor.

We believe that India’s ability to minimise data misuse and maximise its immense data opportunity in an innovation friendly framework, would pave the way for revolutionising Indian livelihoods, from meaningful access to healthcare and education, to having real retail choice and financial independence.

At the same time, India rightly has the ambition to be the go-to data solutions hub for developing countries across 40% of the world solving the largest socio-economic problems plaguing our societies. Though the scale of India’s data wealth and AI absorption gives a promising foundation for achieving this, it will not be enough in and off itself. Collaborations in tech-trade and digital innovation, particularly in the roll-out of AI, will be crucial.

The UK is a world-leader in AI research and innovation, with the resource, finance, and expertise to help deliver India’s AI and data ambitions. There are immense complementarities between UK and Indian digital business capabilities that if enabled, we believe, could see both countries pioneer the fourth industrial revolution together.

Unlocking this would take an ambitious long-term agreement to the shared transfer and processing of data between our two countries. This is why, in this report, the UKIBC is urging both Governments to expand the scope of the UK-India Tech Partnership and prioritise the formation of pioneering business-led collaborations focusing on the five key areas highlighted by NITI Aayog in their National Data Strategy report.

The UKIBC welcomes India’s overall framework based on a balanced “qualified consent, qualified access” regime. Subject to further consultation and clarity on key provisions for data localisation, the independence, effectiveness, and funding of the regulator, and appropriate dispute resolution mechanisms, UK and Indian businesses are keen that both Governments develop the UK-India Tech Partnership in a way which grasps the biggest ease of doing business reform of the 21st century.

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