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India not in a position to accept concept of data free flow with trust: Piyush Goyal – Times of India


NEW DELHI: India is not in a position to accept the concept of data free flow with trust (DFFT) as it is neither well understood nor is comprehensive enough in the legislation of many countries, commerce and industry minister Piyush Goyal said on Tuesday.
He said that in view of the huge digital divide among countries, there is a need for policy space for developing countries which still have to finalise laws around digital trade and data.
The minister was speaking at the virtual meeting of the G-20 trade and investment ministers.
He said data is a potent tool for development, and equitable access of data is a critical aspect for India.
Like many other developing countries, India is still in the phase of preparing a framework for its data protection and e-commerce laws, he added.
“The existing regulations on which DFFT is sought to be premised, such as uninhibited cross border flow of data, are grossly inadequate to address our concerns on data access,” Goyal said.
The minister added that this could further aggravate the digital divide.
He said that India, along with some other G-20 members, did not participate in the Osaka track last year due to its reservations.
“India is not in a position to accept the concept of DFFT,” he said.
On the issue of multilateral trading system, Goyal said it must be fair, transparent and balanced.
He said reforms must preserve fundamental principles like non-discrimination, inclusiveness, recognition of special and differential treatment, and consensus based decision making.
“We must recognise that WTO (World Trade Organisation) is a member led organisation, and the G-20 must not seem to be intrusive and driving the agenda for the multilateral trading system.
“Rather, our priority should be to correct the asymmetry and imbalance in the existing trading system,” the minister said.
Further, it is important to recognise the important role of small retailers in sustaining food chains and essential supplies to help sustain lives and economic activity through the COVID-19 pandemic and in future, Goyal added.

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