“We want all innovators and start-ups to have a choice in accessing the best technology and pricing on storage, and thus, we have changed the data localisation provision in the latest version of the Digital Personal Data Protection Bill,” Rajeev Chandrasekhar, Minister of State for Electronics and Information Technology, and Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, told businessline.

An innovative economy requires multiple choices on where to process its data, and what cloud offering to use, he said, adding that thus, the government does not want a situation to arise where it mandates all innovators and start-ups to only use data centres in India.

Evolving legislation

Speaking at the ‘Breakfast with businessline event at ITC Gardenia in Bengaluru on Friday, Chandrasekhar said, “We want to create a framework for every legislation that allows it to evolve and we certainly will not impose hardcore data localisation as a condition.”

In the latest version of the Digital Personal Data Protection Bill, 2022, the Centre has allowed the transfer of personal data to countries it notifies. This was a departure from the Bill’s previous version which had special localisation provisions for cross-border transfer of sensitive and critical personal data.

“If the data fiduciary says they will use a data centre that is domiciled in the US, Japan or Korea, that is permissible as long as the data centre respects the rights of the Indian citizen which was consented to and has been agreed to,” the Minister said.

Chandrasekhar also spoke on a range of issues including cyber security, angle tax, data privacy, start-up funding and putting guard rails in place to protect the internet freedom.

Data protection

Responding to a question on the independence of the Data Protection Board (introduced in the Digital Personal Data Protection Bill 2022), the Minister said the board will be independent of the government, but will come under the scrutiny of an appeal process.

He added that the judgments made by the board will be transparent and be available in the public domain. Further, the board will not be made of secretaries and joint secretaries of the government; instead it will be run by a set of independent members. The best way to ensure the efficacy, responsiveness and integrity of the board is to make it accountable to an appeal process.

Angel tax, skilling

Apart from the discussion pertaining to citizen data, Chandrasekhar also stated matters of concern around the angel tax levied on capital raised by unlisted companies from international investors. “We certainly think that the angel tax is an aberration and we need more reforms in it; that is certainly something that the Finance Minister is aware of,” he added.

Further, commenting on the government initiatives related to skilling, the Minister said, “We want to convert this into not just a demographic dividend but also create a talent pool to address our own ambitions and those of what the world sees in us. We are working very hard at it, and by 2025 to 2026, the first signs of this work will bear fruit.”

Several leading industry leaders such as PhonePe CEO Sameer Nigam, 3M India’s MD Ramesh Ramadurai, Razorpay co-founder and MD Shashank Kumar, Microsoft India COO Irina Gosh and Bhaskar Bhat of Titan were present at the event.

“We are proud to host ‘Breakfast with bl’ as the session brings forth an insightful conversation. As the first hotel in the world to be LEED Platinum Certified and also be recognised as an LEED Zero Carbon property, we at ITC Gardenia are constantly adapting practices that eliminate single use plastic. Our cuisine also reflects upon the responsible luxury ethos with a culinary display of local love and millets. With 2023 being the International year of millets, our chefs have curated menus and dishes that highlight this super food and emphasise its health benefits,” said Manas Krishnamoorthy, General Manager, ITC Gardenia.