By Rupin Chopra and Apalka Bareja
The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITY) notified a policy proposal titled “Draft India Data Accessibility & Use Policy 2022” (hereinafter referred to as “Data Accessibility Policy”) on February 21, 2022, with an aim to radically transform India’s ability to harness public sector data for catalysing large scale social transformation.
Data sharing and governance as per the Data Accessibility Policy shall be based on the following core principles:
- Identification of datasets for sharing
- Transparency in operation
- User-centered practices and systems
- Risk management over risk avoidance
- Well-defined accountability for all stakeholders
- Equal and non-discriminatory access
- Protection of Intellectual Property
As per the Data Accessibility Policy, data sharing of any kind shall happen within the legal framework of India, its national policies and legislation, and recognized international guidelines.
Objectives of the Policy
Realizing the importance of non-personal data as a valuable resource that can be used for better service delivery for citizens, businesses, and governments and help in India’s ambition of becoming a $5 trillion- dollar digital economy, the government introduced the Data Accessibility Policy with an aim to enhance access, quality, and use of non-personal data of citizens, in line with the current and emerging technology needs of the decade.
NEED FOR A DATA ACCESSIBILITY POLICY
A background note that accompanied the draft policy highlighted the existing restrictions on sharing of data, including the absence of a body for monitoring policy, enforcement of data sharing efforts, technical tools and standards of data sharing, licensing, and valuation frameworks.
The Data Accessibility Policy indicates a way forward to highlight the value of data in the economy and make a powerful governance strategy for better service delivery.
SALIENT PROVISIONS OF THE DATA ACCESSIBILITY POLICY
- Applicability – The Data Accessibility Policy shall be applicable to all non-personal data and information collected/ generated by the Central government directly or indirectly through Ministries/ Organizations/ Autonomous Bodies. . In addition, it allows State Governments shall also be allowed to adopt this policy.
- Institutional Framework – An India Data Office (IDO) under MEITY will be set up to streamline and consolidate data access and sharing of non-personal data repositories across the government and other stakeholders. In addition to this, an India Data Council will be formed as a consulting body for the tasks that include finalising data quality and meta-data standards.
The IDO is tasked to coordinate with ministries, state governments and other schematic programs to identify and accelerate access to non-personal datasets.
- Identification of Datasets – Central government departments/ ministries are required to identify and classify non-personal datasets as open, restricted or non-shareable.
- Government-to-Government Data Sharing – Government departments are required to identify data assets and create detailed, searchable data inventories for government-to-government data sharing. This will minimize duplication of data processing efforts and enable better delivery of citizen centric services.
- Data Retention – Every Central ministry/ department engaged in data sharing shall define its data retention period for specific datasets and ensure compliance with the same while managing storage and sharing of datasets.
- Capacity and Skill Building Measures – IDO is tasked to organize competitive capacity building and training initiatives for government officials to manage, publish, and make use of data.
The last date for submission of inputs/ feedback in response to the Data Accessibility Policy was March 18, 2022 however, there has been no further update on the said Policy by the government since then.
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