Reform law to prevent data misuse, urge experts

Kochi, Mar 22: India urgently needs legislation to prevent misuse of data in a rapidly digitizing world amid increased usage of social media and other online offerings, experts at Kerala’s two-day #FUTURE Global Digital Summit said today.

In a panel discussion on the topic “Data: Oil of the Digital future”, the participants noted that data on widely used social media platforms is largely unregulated which makes them prone to misuse, and puts the users at risk.

Mr Alok Ohrie, President and Managing Director, India Commercial, Dell EMC, said the very nature of the social media and the lack of restrictions on usage implies that it cannot really be termed a “misuse” if the data is used for commercial purposes. “An urgent reform of the law will safeguard the interest of the users,” he said, noting that Indians are particularly vulnerable because so many people are active social media users.

Mr Suku Nair, Director, SMU AT &T Centre for Virtualisation, Dallas, Texas, was of the opinion that a good part of the responsibility of safeguarding data lay with the users themselves. “You don’t leave your wallets or valuables lying around. The same kind of consideration needs to be given to data as well,” he said.

However, Mr Kris Gopalakrishnan, Member, Kerala High Power IT Committee, was of the opinion that governments cannot entirely evade responsibility on this issue, and legislation and regulations to stop data misuse needed to be a priority. He also called on businesses to make use of opportunities in big data, and education policymakers to include artificial intelligence and machine learning in the syllabus for engineering, science and commerce.

According to Mr Sajan Pillai, CEO, UST Global, Kerala had big opportunities in the field of data. “We may have lost our chance with industry, but we will not miss the digital opportunities,” he said, adding that IT industry was sorely in need of data processing professionals. The education sector needs to focus on skills like applied data science and data management, he said.

Raw data, like oil, needs to be processed to make it usable, noted Mr. Devadas Varma, Founder and CEO, entrinsia Inc. Unprocessed data could create massive problems for the industry, he warned.

Mr Ramadas Pillai, President and CEO, Nuphoton Technologies, said the Kerala government has to look actively into easing the difficulties for companies in raising funds and growing here. “This digital window of opportunity is available only for a short while and the government has to act now before it slides,” he said.

Mr Nandagopal Rajan, Editor (New Media), The Indian Express, moderated the session.


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