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IT minister says won’t allow India to be centre of data pilferage

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MUMBAI: The country’s Electronics & IT and Law & Justice minster Ravi Shankar Prasad has come down sharply on data misuse. Speaking at the 15th Asia Media Summit, he said that the government would not allow the country to become a centre of data pilferage and data commerce that, through collusive methods, would be used to influence its electoral process.

He added that all online companies, which were in the business of data commerce, must understand the nuances of accountability. When the recent controversy surrounding data privacy cropped up, with the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica scandal, the government took a firm stand. Since it is expected that India will be a big centre of data analytics, there is a need to have a proper coordination on data availability, data utility, data innovation, data anonymity and data privacy. Prasad also mentioned that a committee headed by a retired Supreme Court judge was looking into the issues and would soon come out with a data protection law.

Though social media poses several challenges, Prasad said that the government was committed to the freedom of press but there was a need to segregate the real from the dangerous. The media, he said, had all the rights to inform, circulate, criticise, advice and counsel but the constitution allows for reasonable restrictions to be placed.

He stated that he was in favour of self-regulation by media along with adherence to the IT Act, which says that content should not be dangerous, libellous or impinge upon the security and integrity of a country or encroach upon copyrights.

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