NEW DELHI: In the backdrop of the Pegasus hacking controversy, Law and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Wednesday said India takes privacy seriously and that data imperialism will not be acceptable.
At the Commonwealth Law Ministers’ Conference in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Prasad strongly articulated India’s stance on data protection, said an official statement. The minister said in the age of IT, data plays a crucial role in the digital economy discourse.
“In India, we view privacy seriously and informational privacy is also integral to that. It means a person must have control over his data and its commercial usage,” Prasad was quoted in the official press release.
The comments assume significance in the backdrop of recent disclosures that Indian journalists and rights activists were among those globally spied upon by unnamed entities using Israeli spyware Pegasus.
WhatsApp said it is suing NSO Group, an Israeli surveillance firm that is reportedly behind the technology that helped the unnamed entities hack into the phones of 1,400 users spanning over four continents.
WhatsApp has over 1.5 billion users globally, of which India accounts for 400 million.
Speaking at the conference, Prasad noted that data economy, both in terms of commercial use and employment, will play a crucial role.
Prasad cautioned that any attempt to create a monopoly on data by a few companies and nations or data imperialism will not be acceptable.
Data sovereignty of countries, big or small, must be respected, he said.
Prasad also mentioned the entire evolution of data law in India, the recommendations of Justice Shri Krishna Committee and said introducing a Bill in this is being considered.