The definitions of community and community data are too broad

Authors: Prakhar Misra and Sharmadha Srinivasan

The article was first published in The Financial Express, August 14th 2020. The views are of the individual author.

Last month, A report on regulating non-personal data was released by MeitY. The report audaciously tries to reign in the dominance of technology companies. Yet, considering the urgency that the report purports, its conceptual framework has a long way to go. It is based on an attractive, but impractical idea—community data. The report does well in parts, but it would benefit immensely from a better definition of communities, and the basis of their ownership of, and rights to, non-personal data.

The definitions of community and community data are too broad. All anonymised personal data and data of “inanimate and animate things or phenomena” tied to a community is considered as community data. Thus, all datasets, from those owned by municipal corporations to raw, unprocessed data owned by telecom and e-commerce companies, could fall under this category.

The definition of a community is broad too—“any group of people that are bound by common interests and purposes involved in social/economic interactions”. An anonymised dataset of electricity bills of residents from a discom and another of users on a Facebook group—say, Manchester United fans—both qualify as community data. This is problematic on three levels—one conceptual, and two operational.

Read the full article here.