The global politics of data is rapidly evolving as leading and emerging digital economies like the European Union (EU), the U.S., India, Indonesia, and South Africa strive to protect, monetise, and leverage data collected within their territories for domestic purposes.


What is the issue?

  • Increasing privacy and security concerns coupled with economic interests have compelled governments to institute rules and standards that govern and restrict cross-border flows with natural implications for negotiations on global trade and commerce.
  • Indeed, the sheer amount of data being generated and shared globally has necessitated governments to exert more control over the use, sharing, and cross-border flow of data.
  • According to the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF), data localisation laws have more than doubled from 2017 to 2021, indicating that states seek and want increasing levels of regulatory control over data.


What is the solution?

  • Data regulation efforts transcend data localisation. Relaxing its deference to self-regulation by firms, the U.S. administration recently issued an executive order on promoting competition in the American economy that pushed for the use of antitrust policy to meet the challenges posed by the rise of dominant platforms, and surveillance.
  • European policymakers have introduced a bevy of digital rules that place individual users centre-stage, and enhancing their data security. Through the proposed Data Act, the EU hopes to become an unparalleled data power by creating a single data market, setting robust standards and deploying the EU’s collective data for their own use.


What India needs to do?

  • The G20 appears as a viable platform to discuss data, particularly sharing and transfer, given seemingly converging positions on data governance amongst major G-7 powers and emerging economies as the state finds a greater role in regulating data.
  • Moreover, the G20’s track record as the apex forum to discuss global economic issues gives it legitimacy and having the top (digital) economies makes it an appropriate forum to discuss data.
  • The G20 does not create binding rules but serves as a platform to catalyse and inject new thinking around critical current issues.


Way forward

  • To underscore political rhetoric and drive global data discussions at the G20, the Indian government should present a holistic agenda that embeds data collection and sharing within a broader framework that prioritises digital security, innovation, and citizen rights.
  • Second, India’s digital economy stewardship must transcend data localisation by highlighting best practices on data protection, competition law, data stewardship, and responsible artificial intelligence both in India and other G20 countries.
  • The ongoing effort to redraft the Personal Data Protection Bill and embed it within a ‘more comprehensive framework’ that addresses related concerns like cybersecurity must serve as an urgent domestic priority, and could lend weight to India’s G20 data approach.



By adding nuance to prevailing ‘data’ narratives and enabling countries with different views to express themselves and engage meaningfully on critical questions, India’s G20 stint would mark a key phase in the global digital economy.


SourceThe Hindu


QUESTION – Data regulation has increasingly assumed a centre-stage in today’s data-led governance in sovereign territories. How India can leverage its G20 presidency to present a holistic agenda that embeds data collection and sharing within a broader framework while prioritising digital security, innovation and citizen rights?