Does India need a GDPR type Regulation to Protect Citizen’s Data?

Data of every Indian citizen is open to exploitation & the average Indian audience is subject to consuming misinformation too. To overcome this challenge, the Government of India has to come up with a GDPR type regulation in the country to protect the data of every Indian citizen.

General Data Policy Regulation is a law of the European Union (EU) that ensures the protection of the personal data of every EU citizen. With a GDPR policy, the utility of an individual’s personal data is possible only with his/her concern.

Since 2018 this law has been in action in EU countries. For example, an FMCG company cannot purchase data and blast an Email Campaign. They cannot acquire mobile numbers of random individuals and keep repeatedly sending promotions without their consent. Protection from spam emails and messages is just one part. Also, erasure of data, the right to stop the processing of his/her personal data etc too are part of it.

Other Countries with Similar Laws

Post its exit from the EU, even Great Britain has a law similar to GDPR. Along the same lines, even Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Japan, Kenya, Mauritius, South Africa, South Korea too have similar laws. Even the state of California in the United States of America adopted the California Consumer Privacy Act in 2018 which has similarities to GDPR.

 Why Not a GDPR for India?

India is the world’s second-most populous country and the largest democracy. Since liberalization, the country has been the battleground for various multinational companies ranging from banks to FMCG companies and even automobile companies to a significant extent. Social media networks like Twitter and Facebook too have a large number of their user base from India.

On this note, the data of every Indian is open to exploitation by every private entity. For example, let us say we are seeking a loan from a multinational bank. These banks are going to require our PAN details, our bank statements and our entire credit history.

Therefore, the bank has your personal details in and out for their own utility. Well, there is a fair argument that the bank might offer full protection of a person’s data. However, there is a possibility that by then, the bank would’ve outsourced the individual’s data to an analytics firm (third party) to conduct research on their behaviours.

Understanding Behaviours and Lookalike Models

Based on these behaviours, a lookalike model can be created, which acts as a proxy for the researcher to understand the user behaviour. While until now the entire process looks smart, here is the catch. When someone understands the lookalike model’s behaviour in and out, isn’t there a possibility of manipulation?

Yes, manipulating the model and influencing the behaviour of every consumer gradually becomes the norm. As a result, a common citizen is by default urged to apply for a loan for every single purpose.

Now, let us imagine a scenario with an FMCG company. Here if the company is keen on increasing its sales, they always tend to make the product an addiction.

Coca Cola and Pepsi are the best examples to observe. Yes, even today many of us are so much into consuming Coke and Pepsi rather than plain water because in one way or the other, we are addicted to it.

In a nutshell, these companies can seamlessly manipulate a set of audiences and dictate terms to them. In short, these MNCs could be a new age East India Company!

Political Implications & Public Perception with Data

We all remember the Cambridge Analytica scam that had a large role to play in influencing public perception. The toxic campaigns of Brexit and the 2016 US Presidential Elections is reportedly a larger scam of influencing perception. Similarly, Indian Elections too are drifting towards those perception battles in the state as well as parliamentary elections.

On the other hand, the epic Delhi Riots in 2020 and even the Farmer protests are classic examples of mass influence. Therefore, implementing a general data policy regulation to protect the personal data of every Indian citizen is highly essential.

Keep watching this space for more updates on GDPR type regulation for India!

1 comment
  1. Very simply put a very complex subject considering demographics of Indian diaspora besides our own attitude towards data protection. Yes, GDPR like regulation can help and it’s true that data leakage is becoming a big nuissance as consumers. It is peyrifying to know that our personal details are so vulnerable and easily accessible. Time is to wake up now and ask for GDPR in India sooner than later. Very good write up Aravind.

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