The Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) said in a statement that “the draft Policy is likely to severely bring down FDI flows in the sector which is the backbone to building a trillion-dollar digital economy.”
The association also found that the process of making the policy itself was less than inclusive and open as compared to more recent national level policies such as the National Digital Communications Policy 2018.
IAMAI also expressed the difference in opinion with the draft policy’s understanding of ‘data is the new oil’. The statement issued by IAMAI stated that, “unlike non-renewable natural resources like oil or coal, data is non-exclusive, non-exhaustive and easily replicable. Furthermore, unlike the other natural resources, processing of data does not deplete the stock of data and only created further data.”
The draft ecommerce policy which proposes a “legal and technological framework to be created that can provide the basis for imposing restrictions on cross-border data flow,” has been drawing flak from multiple trade bodies.
The draft policy imposes stringent conditions on companies storing data outside the country like: data stored abroad shall not be made available to other business entities outside India, for any purpose, even with the customer consent; data stored abroad shall not be made available to a third party, for any purpose, even if the customer consents to it; a request from Indian authorities to have access to all such data stored abroad, shall be complied with immediately etc,.
Companies like Facebook, Microsoft, Netflix, Amazon and Twitter are part of IAMAI along with many Indian media houses, telecos and ecommerce companies.
Recently, the United States Trade Representative in its factsheet for National Trade Estimate (2019) slammed the Cross-Border Data Flows and Data Localization Requirements.
“Restrictions included in India’s draft Personal Data Protection law and draft e-Commerce Policy threaten to undermine the digital economy as a major source of growth for India,” USTR mentioned in its factsheet.
The government had invited comments from stakeholders including consumers on the draft National Ecommerce Policy the last date for which was till March 29.