India plans on handing over the reins of data privacy to the telecom industry watchdog

India plans on handing over the reins of data privacy to the telecom industry watchdog

  • After the Indian government approved changing the name of the Telecom Commission to the Digital Communications Commission, inside sources reveal that it is more than just a namesake.
  • The Indian government plans on bringing data privacy and security under the umbrella of the Telecom Commission as well.
  • India’s data consumption, while on telecom networks, in currently looked after by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology.
Technically any data consumption that happens on your phone is on a telecom network. But, rather than the Telecom Commission being in charge of its security, it’s the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) that cares of your data privacy concerns.

In order to address that discrepancy, the Indian government is thinking of switching gears and putting all data related regulations and directives under one umbrella with the Telecom Commission.

But that’s easier said than done. The government would have to widen the scope for the commission as well bring in amendments to include new laws and regulations.

In order to tackle this gargantuan shift, the Indian government’s already put a panel in place to figure out how to bring the various aspects of data security and privacy under the ambit of the Telecom Commission and out from under MeitY.

A senior official at the commission told the Economic Times that the recent change of the Telecom Commission to the Digital Communication Commission (DCC) and Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) being renamed the Digital Communications Regulatory Authority of India (DCRAI) is more than just namesake.

It’s about cementing the idea that any policy changes that happen aren’t just from a single ministry, but from the government as a whole. Putting data regulation and security under one commission would streamline the processes that have to follow as well. Especially since 93% of data consumption happens on telecom networks.

Here’s how it’s going to happen

TRAI explains why accountability, autonomy and security are integral for it to be an efficient ‘Data Controller’ in its report, the ‘Privacy, Security and Ownership of Data in the Telecom Sector’.

Laws have to be changed, panels have to set up and experts have to be called in. And, first in line are the implications of the Personal Data Privacy Bill.

Scheduled to come back on the table in December once all comments and suggestions have been taken into consideration, the draft bill will give users the right to monitor their consent or withdraw it altogether.

Though the bill was submitted to the IT ministry, it may shift under the TRAI once the required changes are made to the TRAI Act and scope of the ministry.

These changes can only be made through an amendment in laws. And, that takes time. There may already be a panel in place, but the Indian government still has a long way to go to not only ensure data privacy for its citizens but simultaneously bring in cybersecurity under the Telecom Commission.