Indian govt to pass India’s Privacy Protection Bill soon

India’s Privacy Data Protection Bill, which is going through multiple stakeholder considerations, will be passed soon.

Things are still under deliberation, as the government is steadfast in its belief that data should be easy and affordable to access,” said Neeta Verma, Director General (DG), National Informatics Center (NIC), Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeITY) who was addressing W.Media’s South Asia Cloud and Data Center Summit.

Legislation on data protection has gathered pace in India since the Supreme Court ruled privacy as a fundamental right in 2018. Subsequently, Justice B N Srikrishna, was tasked to come up with a draft of the Data Protection Bill.

The draft now is with the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC), who will eventually pass it into a law. While Dr Verma did not specify a timeline on when it will come into effect, she said that the government is deliberating all aspects, across all stakeholders, into this Bill.

With the onset of COVID-19, coupled with other likely accelerators such as 5G launch later this year, data consumption is growing at a humongous pace in countries like India. India with its 564 million internet user base is one of the most lucrative markets for internet-enabled services. For the same India needs to have the mix of physical infrastructure as well as laws that safeguard data protection for individuals and corporations, stated Dr. Verma.

Along with a policy on data (which has been referred to JPC for approval), the Indian government has also floated the framework for a data center policy, which after feedback, will be made into a law. “Data center should be accorded infrastructure status- like railways or roads and data center parks should be allowed to come up,” said Dr. Verma.

According infrastructure status, helps in attracting long-term capital from large pension funds as well as Private Equity companies, which is needed for building out a data center infrastructure in India. The government’s draft of a national Data Centre (DC) policy, focuses on simplifying existing rules, indigenous manufacturing and giving it “infrastructure” status could see big ticket investments.

Data center parks will help companies to co-locate their IT infrastructure in places which have reliable power, connectivity, amongst other factors.

Incentivisation schemes are also in the offing, stated Dr. Verma. India has a large talent pool, broadband connectivity, as well as geographically is one of the best places for becoming a global hub of data centers. “We have seen fast adoption fo cloud within government with 12,000 apps under the umbrella,”she said.

Some examples of government cloud services in India includes MyGov, e-hospitals, e-way bills, the government’s e-procurement system, Swachh Bharat mission, amongst others.

Dr. Verma is of that nowadays, data centers need to be viewed through a different lens. ‘We need to look at efficiencies in data centers in an environmentally sustainable manner-from managing power for cooling requirements to energy consumption. Data canter with managed services offers a great opportunity for India.

Southeast Asian firms more aware of cyber hygiene: Palo Alto study says

Southeast Asian countries, including Indonesia, are becoming more aware of the importance of cybersecurity and protection from cyber threats, a survey by a technology corporation revealed.

Surung Sinamo, Country Manager of Palo Alto Networks Indonesia who conducted the report, said in an online forum on Wednesday: “They (countries) are becoming more aware of the importance of preventing and thwarting cyber attacks that can potentially disrupt businesses, as we have seen in the last few years.”

Conducted from 6 to 15 Feb, 2020, right before the spread of coronavirus widened, the survey involved 400 leaders of tech companies from Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Singapore.

Palo Alto believes the survey’s findings remain relevant amid the pandemic as more work is being done virtually.

“There are a lot of virtual meetings, companies have accelerated their need (for such meetings) to ensure that their businesses and workers are protected,” Sinamo said.

Of the 100 companies surveyed by Palo Alto in Indonesia, 4 out of 5, or 84% businesses, had increased their budget for cybersecurity in 2020, higher than the average in the region, with 73% of the companies reporting higher cybersecurity budgets.

Almost half of the 84% companies that responded said they allocated most of their total tech budget for cybersecurity, with 71 % saying they increased the budget as cyber threats are becoming more sophisticated.

Furthermore, 70% of the respondents said that cyber attacks had increased, and 69% felt the need to boost their security capacities, including through automation.

76 % of the respondents saw solutions such as antiviruses and anti-malware as important aspects of cybersecurity, while 61% said they had also invested in cloud-based servers, even higher than the global trend (link to article).

Meanwhile, 56 % of the Indonesian companies used software-defined wide area network security and 51% opted for firewalls.

The growing awareness of cybersecurity was also reflected in measures to review standard operational procedure policies annually. These were carried out by 92% of the respondents.

However, 44% reported they were still not confident about their cybersecurity despite that the majority has increased their security investment.

This suggested a demand for more reliable security options among Southeast Asian firms.