By Sandeep Joshi, July 19, 2020

NEW DELHI: Data is a nation’s asset and it should be utilised properly for achieving prosperity, especially in sectors like healthcare, agriculture and education, Union Minister for Communications, IT and Law Ravi Shankar Prasad has said . He also said that keeping this in mind, the government has brought a data protection law which is being examined by the select committee of Parliament.

Observing that data must be secured, Prasad said the government had in the first week of December last year approved the Personal Data Protection Bill that will spell out a framework for handling of personal data, including its processing by public and private entities. Mr Prasad was delivering the Late Thakur Prasad Centenary Memorial Lecture on “Data Privacy, Data Security and Data Sovereignty”.

“Data is a nation’s asset. This great asset of data has to be properly used, processed and value added for healthcare, agriculture and education. Therefore, not only data ownership but also data sovereignty becomes important,” the Union minister said.

“If data is a good asset it must be secured and vested into the sovereign power of a country. Therefore, we have brought data protection law which is being examined by the select committee of the Parliament,” Mr Prasad said. He said that Digital India today has become a transformative programme whereby common Indians are getting empowered through technology.

The “great JAM trinity- Jan Dhan, Aadhaar and Mobile – has led to transformation in governance,” he said. The central government has transferred close to Rs 11 lakh crore directly into the bank accounts of the poor under direct benefit transfer (DBT) scheme and saved Rs 1.70 lakh crore which used to be pocketed by fake beneficiaries and middle men, Mr Prasad said.

A digital ecosystem generates a lot of data and the vast size and population of India with 120 crore plus mobile phones and nearly 70 crore plus internet users have become a new tool in the hands of the common man, he said.

The Union minister said that Aadhaar itself undertakes three crore authentications every day. Platforms like e-scholarship, e-hospitals, soil health card, GSTN, UPI, Ayushman Bharat are all game changing programmes which have improved governance and delivery, Mr Prasad added.

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