Author: Rishab Bailey and Renuka Sane

The article was first published in The Hindu on September 3nd, 2020. The views are of the individual authors.

The Committee of Experts on the Non-Personal Data Governance Framework has recommended in its report, among other things, making privately held non-personal data “open”. The objective is to make such data available for general use, though the committee does lay down conditions for such data transfers. This has raised concerns about state interference in the private data ecoystem. We think that the report is a missed opportunity to address the governance frameworks around what are some of the most important non-personal data sets in a country — those created by government agencies, or those resulting from taxpayer money.

Non-personal data are data that do not identify an individual. Nonetheless, such data can be useful in either framing public policy or creating and providing new services. For example, aggregate data from land registries can tell us a lot about land use patterns. Data related to traffic flows can be used to guide traffic management. Non-personal data are also viewed as critical for development of the AI ecosystem.

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