Govt may ask Facebook, Google, others to sell public data of users: Report

Govt may ask Facebook, Google, others to sell public data of users: Report
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9 Sep, 2019

The ministry of electronics and information technology (MeitY) is considering issuing guidelines to make it mandatory for technology companies like Google, Facebook and Amazon to make public data of their users available for sale.

A senior government official said the ministry is mulling over guidelines that will allow agencies and companies to share publicly available user information such as traffic, buying and illness patterns, The Economic Times reported.

MeitY has sent out a questionnaire to technology specialists on how to deal with users’ non-personal data and whether it should form part of the Personal Data Protection Bill, the report said. 

If the guidelines are implemented, it would mean companies would have to sell public data of users to anyone in the country seeking access to it, including the government and private entities, the report said. 

The ministry is of the opinion that companies should hold and monetise public data, the report added.

The official also told the publication the guidelines would be aimed at ensuring competition and universal access to the database generated from Indian citizens. 

In August, MeitY reached out to stakeholders for opinions on the storage and anonymisation of ecommerce data in the Personal Data Protection Bill.  Later that month, it was reported that MeitY would not include ecommerce data in the proposed bill as it would be dealt with separately. 

In June, the government reportedly asked Facebook-owned messaging platform WhatsApp to generate a digital fingerprint for every message sent on its encrypted network. The move was aimed to ensure that all content shared on WhatsApp is traceable by the government. 

In July 2018, a committee led by former Supreme Court judge B N Srikrishna had unveiled the draft Personal Data Protection Bill. The panel had recommended disallowing cross-border transfer of critical personal data processed within India.