VISION

Creating a vibrant community of researchers and practitioners

Over the next two years, DGN hopes to develop a self-sustaining, multidisciplinary community of professionals that can inform good governance practices and the trajectory of India's digital economy. We aim to achieve this by bringing together institutional and individual experts, convening stakeholders across industry, government and academia, and fuelling an engine of implementable policy research. Among its research-related activities, DGN will host research seminars, industry working groups and roundtables to bridge divergent perspectives and create platforms for new research insights.

MOTIVATION

Enabling evidence-based solutions to the challenge of data governance

India has the opportunity to shape its data governance framework in a way that empowers individuals and maximises public good, while addressing the pressing challenges of privacy and security. However, it currently lacks the evidence base needed to make well-informed and context-sensitive policy decisions. DGN aims to fill this gap by investing in innovative research on data governance across India.

Policy interventions are not keeping pace with the explosion in availability of personal data.

With more than a billion Indians having a mobile phone and more than 330 million connected to the Internet, Indians are creating digital data on a massive scale. This explosion of data availability creates urgent policy challenges, such as developing methods to operationalise meaningful consent and designing organisational principles for a data protection authority in the near future.

Policymakers need a broader and deeper evidence base to make informed decisions.

While access to personal data has skyrocketed, funding targeted towards cross-disciplinary research on data governance has remained limited. Moreover, there has been a lack of consistent dialogue and coordination between key stakeholders. This has led to a dearth of original research that policymakers can draw upon when trying to make sound policy decisions on data governance in India.

Recent policy developments offer a window of opportunity.

In the past two years, India has experienced a windfall of judicial and legislative advancements governing the use of data. The 2017 Supreme Court judgement declaring privacy as a fundamental right, the draft Personal Data Protection Bill in Parliament and the recent judgement on the Aadhaar bill together form the basis of a unique political opportunity structure. Now is the time to invest in research that enables India to pave the way for good data governance.

India has the potential to be a staging ground.

Given the recent development of public platforms such as India Stack, which provides developers a unique digital infrastructure toward innovation for social good, India is poised to develop a citizen-centric approach rooted in the Indian context. This is distinct from other global models, including the free enterprise approach of the United States and the harms-based approach of the European Union. India's journey toward data empowerment may offer important lessons for the rest of the world but is unlikely to succeed without sustained investment in intellectual capital.

“The transformative potential of the digital economy to improve lives in India and elsewhere, is seemingly limitless at this time” 
 

Committee of Experts under the Chairmanship
of Justice B.N. Srikrishna

PRINCIPLES

An evidence-based, nonpartisan, and transparent approach to enhancing state capacity

Policymakers can benefit from the rapid dissemination of new insights needed to meet emergent challenges. To ensure the greatest impact of our work, we seek to turn high-quality, balanced research perspectives into common knowledge that policymakers can draw upon. We also aim to be transparent in disseminating our work, so that others may build upon our knowledge.

Promoting capacity building

DGN will aim to enable evidence-based policymaking and effective implementation mechanisms for agencies like the Data Protection Authority. In doing so, DGN will take a pracademic approach that marries the rigour of academia with the real-world grounding of practitioners.

A strong evidence base

Data governance is an emerging field and has attracted a lot of attention. However, there is a huge lack of primary research in this area. DGN will aim to produce high-quality primary research that serves as a foundation for further analysis and informs public policy.

Nonpartisan work

Regardless of ideological affiliation, all stakeholders stand to benefit from rigorous research. DGN will work across the ideological spectrum to create sound data governance frameworks.

Sharing research roadmaps

Given that data governance is a new field with few existing capabilities, DGN members agree to share their research roadmaps and minimise (but not necessarily eliminate) duplication. In areas like primary research, it would be ideal to avoid duplication, as that would be costly and wasteful. In areas like the design of a Data Protection Authority, it would be good to have multiple institutions bring different perspectives to the same topic.