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NASSCOM, UKIBC and TechUK highlight importance of data transfers for India-UK digital trade in a report

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UK India Business Council, NASSCOM and TechUK have released a Joint Position Paper on Enabling Data Transfers for India-UK Digital Trade aimed at promoting data protection in both countries while enabling free flow of data in the UK-India corridor.

The paper makes a series of recommendations for both governments to consider as part of the ongoing India-UK Free Trade Agreement negotiations. The Joint Position Paper will inform the governments on their efforts to reform domestic regimes on personal data protection, cross-border data transfers, and encourages bilateral discussions towards securing a data adequacy agreement. This includes recommendations for both governments to commit to the protection of personal information via adequate and comprehensive legal regimes, including a dedicated digital trade chapter in the proposed FTA. Such a chapter, the report says, may cover several topics, including protection of privacy and personal information, international data flows, paperless trading, online consumer protection, cooperation on fintech, data innovation and artificial intelligence.

Regarding domestic data protection and transfer regimes, the paper offers suggestions on the specific areas for both countries to prioritize as they finalise their respective domestic legal regimes on data protection and transfers. India, via the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITY), is currently considering the latest iteration of a comprehensive draft data protection law- the Data Protection Bill of 2021 (DPB 2021) that was released by a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC), post  reviewing an earlier version called the Personal Data Protection Bill of 2019 (PDP Bill). On the other hand, UK, through its Department for Culture, Media and Sports (DCMS), has recently concluded a consultation process on taking its current framework on data regulation in ‘a new direction’ by considering reforms needed to secure a ‘pro-growth and trusted data regime’.

The Indian Tech industry is a significant investor in the UK and plays a leading role in achieving India’s position as the second-largest source of FDI in the UK. It does so by employing and upskilling local talent, contributing to the UK’s corporate competitiveness, and creating economic growth and other positive spillovers from a thriving digital sector. At the same time, there are over 100 British Capability Centres in India leveraging India’s digital talent, innovative capabilities, and scale to drive enterprise competitiveness, by solving complex problems and managing risk. Total trade in goods and services  between the UK and India was £24.3 billion in the four quarters to the end of Q4 2021 according to DIT estimates.

Meghna Misra-Elder, Associate Director, UKIBC said, “Digital technology, data and the exchange of information are increasingly important, across all services sectors, in global trade and therefore are essential to services powerhouses like the UK and India.  It is vital that there is a India-UK data adequacy partnership to spur cross-border data transfers, innovation and collaboration. We urge the governments to use the FTA negotiations to accelerate this data adequacy partnership.”

Shivendra Singh, Vice President and Head Global Trade, NASSCOM said, “Technology has taken up the centre stage and will play a significant role in doubling the  bilateral trade between India and UK. Given digital revenues will be the lynchpin of this growth story, it is important that we are able to build convergence on data and digital. It will hugely benefit the large, SME’s and start-up ecosystem.”

Julian David, CEO, TechUK said, “TechUK is pleased to partner with NASSCOM and UKIBC on highlighting the importance of free and open data transfers for the UK-India digital trade corridor. Digital and data services are going to drive the future trading partnership between the UK and India, and it is therefore important that cross-border data flows with an adequate data protection regime are central to future bilateral trade relations. The launch of UK-India FTA negotiations offers the opportunity to deepen the bilateral tech partnership and work towards a data adequacy partnership.”

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