Context: India’s upcoming technology regulations are back in focus with new ministers taking charge at the ministry of electronics and information technology (Meity).
What tech regulations is India working on?
- With the IT rules out of the way, India has three big technology regulations in the works. These include:
- Personal Data Protection (PDP) Bill:
- It is akin to the European General Data Privacy Regulation and will set the stage for how big technology firms operate in the country.
- National Cybersecurity Strategy:
- With 80 deliverables that provide for data security and may also have an impact on the country’s telecom sector.
- Cryptocurrency bill:
- It regulates the future of digital currencies in the country.
- The cryptocurrency bill may also set the framework for a central bank digital currency in India.
Status of these regulations:
- A draft of the PDP Bill was seen in 2019.
- A Data Protection Authority will be formed and will take steps to protect the interest of individuals in India, according to the draft.
- But the bill has been criticized for possibly bestowing too much power on government agencies, which could be misused.
- The finance minister has stated that the government will take a “calibrated” approach to crypto, though fears remain that the upcoming bill might ban crypto trading in India.
When could these rules be introduced?
- The IT rules are already in effect, but the other three are yet to come.
- National cybersecurity coordinator has stated that the cyber-security strategy will be introduced later in 2021.
- The finance minister has stated that the cabinet note for the crypto bill is ready, raising expectations that it will be tabled in the monsoon session of Parliament.
- A parliamentary panel had been deliberating on the PDP Bill for a long time and had asked for an extension during the budget session in March.
- It received the extension till the monsoon session.
Impact of Cabinet reshuffle:
- Many industry experts say the cabinet reshuffle may be a good thing for the future of regulations.
- The new IT minister is an alumnus of IIT Kanpur (having some technical background).
- It is believed that his first task would be to ease the tensions between the Union government and big technology companies.
Is the internet the only part of India’s tech regulations?
- India has also been trying to attract electronics manufacturers to India.
- It has already introduced production-linked incentive (PLI) schemes for mobile and IT hardware manufacturing and is working on a plan to attract semiconductor and display manufacturers to India.
- These could significantly impact the exports of electronic goods.
National Cybersecurity Policy 2020:
- The genesis of the existing policy - India’s first - released in 2013 lies in the allegations by Edward Snowden that NSA surveillance was also tracking India’s domestic issues.
- The National Cyber Security Strategy 2020 (NCSS 2020): Overseen by the National Security Council Secretariat, collected public comments.
- Tensions with China: As it plays out in a technological battleground, a new cybersecurity policy would replace the present one.
- These frameworks will have a bearing on incidents similar to the hacking of 121 Indians’ WhatsApps in 2019 by the Isreali cyber firm NSO Group.
- Need for a new policy:
- New technologies: The present cyber threat landscape poses significant challenges due to rapid technological developments such as Cloud Computing, Artificial Intelligence, internet of Things, 5G, etc.
- New challenges: Include data protection/privacy, law enforcement in evolving cyberspace, access to data stored overseas, misuse of social media platforms, international cooperation on cybercrime & cyber terrorism, etc.
- Present Government Initiatives:
- Cyber Surakshit Bharat Initiative.
- A committee set up by the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) has recommended the introduction of a cyber insurance policy.
- This policy will protect the policyholders from cybercrimes.
- Cyber Swachhta Kendra.
- Online cybercrime reporting portal.
- Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre (I4C).
- National Critical Information Infrastructure Protection Centre (NCIIPC).
- Information Technology Act, 2000.
- National Cyber Policy, 2013.