Swadeshi Jagaran Manch (SJM), an affiliate of the Hindu nationalist group Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), has written to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, cautioning him not to compromise on data sovereignty at bilateral and multilateral trade negotiations.
The suggestion from the affiliate of RSS, which is an ideological source for the government, comes at a time when the US has indicated that India’s data localisation plan should give fair treatment to American companies. The timing could not have been more crucial, as data localisation is one of the issues in the India-US trade deal.
SJM, in a letter addressed to Modi on Sunday, said, “India must refrain from negotiating data sovereignty at bilateral & multilateral trade negotiations. Data is a national asset. It may be commercial, strategic or even elementary. The data must be protected".
The advice comes at a very important time, as India is currently negotiating a trade deal with the United States. Sources in the Indian Ministry of Commerce contend that data security is one of the issues in the deal.
Data localisation essentially means having information pertaining to financial transactions stored in servers located within the country. American firms Google, MasterCard, Visa, and Amazon have lobbied against data localisation globally, maintaining that it will lead to higher costs of operations for them.