BOOK CHAPTER OUT! — COVID-19 and Non-Personal Data in the Indian Context: On the Normative Ideal of Public Interest

The southwestern Indian state of Kerala has been in the news for flattening the curve in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, raising the bar for public health interventions through proactive and informed policy stances. However, another storm was brewing for a few weeks in April and early May that had implications for the larger public health crisis. Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala questioned the state government upon entering into a contract with a private firm, Sprinklr, which would be granted full access to citizens’ health data. This led to petitions being filed in the Kerala High Court, and the judge ordering that the data of COVID-19 patients with Sprinklr be anonymised. Several days before the original post from which this chapter is drawn was written, the Kerala government told the High Court that the data had been transferred to a State-owned cloud space. While this incident, in the midst of a global pandemic, speaks to ongoing discussions on the data privacy and healthcare cybersecurity, it also highlights what is emerging as an important domain in data governance: Non-Personal Data.

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Governance of Non-Personal Data in India: Early Reflections from Digital Ethnography

Even as the world grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic and continues to put in place measures for human safety, one thing that has been pronounced during this time is the public health reliance on Data. From contact tracing apps to the building of databases, the pandemic has revealed the very current turn to Datafication that is beginning to occur in a big way, across countries. India is no exception. Over the last half a decade, we have seen numerous policy shifts that prove that this is a new reality that we must contend with, and study better. This short reflection presents an analysis of the discourse and key analytical aspects of Data Governance in India.

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COVID-19 and Non-Personal Data in the Indian context: On the Normative Ideal of Public Interest

Even as activists and ethical technologists have been writing about and working on Personal Data and Privacy, the newer arena of Non-Personal Data (NPD) is very under-explored. What is the role of NPD in the face of a global pandemic like COVID-19? How do we deal with the possible economic exploitation of NPD, without any ethical bindings? This post looks at recent developments in dealing with Non-Personal Data in India, and the possible opportunities it provides in light of COVID-19. It argues for embedding public interest in working with NPD in India, a very urgent mission for activists and ethical technologists.

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Human Security in a Datafying South Asia: Approaching Data Protection

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In an increasing datafying world, protection of data created and generated as a result of everyday interactions assumes imperativeness. Last year, Europe adopted the General Data Protection Rules (GDPR), which has yet to be subject to substantial reviews to check for inconsistencies and possible blind-spots. Similarly, other national (like India and Brazil) and regional juridical bodies seek to work out frameworks that address data protection. This paper looks at some possible ways to think about Data Protection legislations and practices in South Asia. By alluding to ideas of data justice (Taylor, 2017; Dencik, Hintz & Cable, 2016) and underscoring the idea of ‘multiplicity’ of data regimes, this essay paper draws on the idea of human security (King & Murray, 2001) as central to thinking about data protection legalities. This is does, by placing the protection of the essence, proprietary and otherwise, of the human, at the centre of this legal exercise of formulating data protection legislations, to uphold data democracy.

What Millennials need to know before sitting at the ‘Policy Table’

I wrote about Millennials seeking to occupy space at the policy table here: “More often than not, we place the emphasis on the word ‘policy’, when in fact, the word ‘public’ is equally important. In a world where the digital is taking over the governance space, and corporations get a big slice of the policy pie, one wonders what is left of the ‘public’, as people need not necessarily want to occupy the digital space alone, to be governed. Any young public policy enthusiast must ask her/himself these questions, to understand the flow of power, both material and soft.