Explained: Can the National Data Governance Policy be a gamechanger?

The policy proposes to simplify the KYC process while anonymising individual, non-personal data.

Published : Feb 01, 2023 20:25 IST

Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman presents the Union Budget 2023-24 in the Lok Sabha on the second day of the Budget Session of Parliament in New Delhi on February 1.

Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman presents the Union Budget 2023-24 in the Lok Sabha on the second day of the Budget Session of Parliament in New Delhi on February 1. | Photo Credit: ANI

During her Union Budget speech on February 1, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said the government will bring a National Data Governance policy, which will simplify the KYC (Know Your Customer) process while anonymising individual data. She stated that the policy was being deliberated by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) since 2020.

While presenting the 2023-24 Union Budget, Sitharaman said, “National Data Governance Policy to be brought out, will enable access to anonymised data, KYC process to be simplified, adopt risk-based instead of one-size fits all approach, fin regulators to be encouraged to adopt KYC system fitting needs of Digital India.”

Anonymisation is a data processing technique that removes or modifies personally identifiable information; it results in anonymised data that cannot be associated with any one individual. The policy aimed to provide an institutional framework for data, metadata rules, standards, guidelines, and protocols for sharing non-personal data while safeguarding the user’s privacy, security, and trust.

On May 26, 2022, the MeitY released a fresh draft of the National Data Governance Framework Policy with an emphasis on sharing anonymous data to increase the number of India-specific datasets that will be used to unleash innovation and research by startups and academia.

How will it be implemented?

As part of the framework, a platform will be designed which will process requests and provide access to non-personal and/or anonymised datasets to Indian researchers and start-ups. The previous draft contained the Ministry’s plans to monetise the sharing of data—according to reports, they received widespread criticism for the same.

As part of the policy, the Indian government will also build the India Datasets program (IDP), which will consist of non-personal datasets from government entities that have collected data from Indian citizens or people living in India. The policy also stated that private entities will be encouraged to share such data.

Who will be responsible for it?

The draft policy stated that an India Data Management Office (IDMO) will be set up under the Digital India Corporation in the MeitY, which will be responsible for the data framework by developing rules, standards, and guidelines under the policy.

It will also be responsible for designing the platform that processes the requests for access to non-personal and/or anonymised datasets for use. Apart from that, it was stated in the policy that departments and ministries will have data management units (DMU), headed by a designated official.

What are the sources for such datasets?

Every government ministry/ department/organisation will have to identify and classify available datasets, as per the draft policy. Private companies can also create datasets and contribute to the IDP. The draft policy also stated that IDMO will prescribe rules and standards in this regard.

How can the public access it?

IDMO will design and maintain the Datasets Access platform which will be responsible for granting access to databases, according to the draft policy. “All datasets in the India Datasets program can only be accessed through this and any other IDMO-designated and authorised platforms,” it read.

The policy has also proposed limits to data requests by granting IDMO the authority to ascertain whether requesting entities be allowed access to full databases or combinations.

According to the official statement released by the MeitY, the IDMO will coordinate closely with line Ministries, State Governments, and other schematic programs to standardize data management.

(with inputs from Saatvika Radhakrishna and agencies)

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