Data protection rules to be released for consultation soon: IT minister Ashwini Vaishnaw | Latest News India

    New Delhi: The ministry of electronics and information technology will release the rules under the Digital Personal Data Protection (DPDP) Act, 2023 for consultation soon, Union IT minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said on Saturday and added that the goal to bring in large-scale manufacturing of electronics, components, and semiconductor remains unchanged.

    Union IT minister Ashwini Vaishnaw

    The DPDP Act, the long-awaited data protection law, was given a presidential assent on August 12 last year, but it is yet to be implemented partly because the corresponding rules haven’t been notified.

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    “Drafting of DPDP Rules is in very advanced stage. We will start the industry consultation now… Whatever extensive consultations will be required; we will do those. We won’t rush through. We will prefer as consultative a process as we can, like you saw in the Telecom Bill and the DPDP Act,” Vaishnaw, who reassumed the office of IT ministry four days ago, said.

    The DPDP Rules are a top priority, he said. “AI [artificial intelligence] is also a very important item. But first, we have to make sure that DPDP in its digital form comes into shape,” he added.

    The minister noted that the entire implementation process will be digital by design. Under the DPDP law, a Data Protection Board will function as a “digital office” to deal with issues related to personal data breaches in a “digital by design” manner. Similarly, an appellate tribunal, to which complaints can be escalated if they are not satisfactorily resolved by the Board, will also be a “digital office”.

    The digital platform for the Data Protection Board is being built parallelly within MeitY, Vaishnaw said, adding it will be created by National Information Centre and/or Digital India Corporation.

    “In parallel, we are working on creating the digital by design platform so that the implementation can be done in a digital form, which is a part of the Act. … It will be born digital. That exercise is also going on in parallel.”

    He, however, refused to share any timelines, but said the draft rules have made “good progress”.

    “I reviewed it after four months and I was quite happy with the draft that was shown to me,” the minister said, adding lots of changes would be made to the draft rules based on inputs from the industry, stakeholders, lawyers, consultants, user groups, Internet Freedom Foundation (IFF) and government organisations. “We will take all views.”

    Vaishnaw has had at least one meeting within MeitY on DPDP rules since reassuming office on June 11. The then minister of state, MeitY, Rajeev Chandrasekhar, had held a consultation with the industry on the draft rules in December 2023.

    Stressing that DPDP rules are the priority right now, Vaishnaw said the overall aim of the government to create a new digital regulatory framework “remains intact”. “Our thought process of creating a new digital regulatory framework remains intact. The horizontals — which are the Telecom Act, the DPDP Act, the Digital India Act 3 remain intact,” he said.

    “Obviously, so many things have happened in the recent past. For example, we have seen the destructive power of AI and deepfakes. … Should we recalibrate our strategy, that is a question we need to answer. But yes, we need to definitely have a good legal structure where our society and democracy can be protected from these attacks,” the minister said.

    The IndiaAI Mission, which was approved by the Cabinet in March with an outlay of 10,371.92 crore, remains on track, he said, adding officials continued to work on it during the recently concluded Lok Sabha elections. “I will be reviewing it next week and then I will be able to give you more details,” he said.

    ‘Double employment, production in NDA 3.0’

    Meanwhile, Union minister Vaishnaw said that in the third term of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government, employment and total production through electronics manufacturing should double.

    “Electronics manufacturing in India is to the order of $125 billion to $130 billion. And it is generating employment for about 20-25 lakh [2-2.5 million]. Accurate measurement in these cases is difficult. … In this term [of NDA], we should be easily doubling it. Employment should go up to 50 lakh [5 million] while total production should go up to $200 billion to $300 billion easily,” he said.

    Vaishnaw pointed out that even during the poll season, there were queries from large manufacturers on setting up plants in India. “We, the department, have been directing them primarily to the OEMs [original equipment manufacturers] so that the OEMs and the component manufacturers can have synergy. That is working well,” he added.

    The minister further said he reviewed the progress of semiconductor plants on Saturday. “The progress is very good. I have spoken to the chief ministers of both the states — Gujarat and Assam. They are fully cognizant and aware of what is happening on the ground,” he said.

    The Centre has approved four semiconductor manufacturing plants so far — three in Gujarat (by US firm Micron; a fab unit by Tata Electronics; an ATMP unit by CG Power), and one in Assam (an ATMP unit by Tata Semiconductor Assembly and Test — TSAT).

    Both Micron and Tata are on track to produce their chips on time, “plus/minus a quarter”, Vaishnaw said.

    Semtech Corporation, an American semiconductor manufacturing company, and Disco Corp, a Japanese manufacturers of semiconductor manufacturing equipment and precision tools, are “moving in the direction of setting up their own plants”, he said.

    Given the scale of these semiconductor manufacturing plants, Vaishnaw said that the state governments in Assam and Dholera (Gujarat) are “fully supporting” for housing the workers. “In Sanand, there is already a good residential system set up.” The support includes providing land, giving permissions, he specified. It is not clear if this involves monetary support from the state governments too.

    In electronics manufacturing, one of Tata’s manufacturing plants has already crossed 40,000 workers and is closing in on 50,000 workers. In such cases, he said, they have no choice but to provide housing because getting so many workers to commute is very difficult.

    For semiconductor manufacturing, the government has also tied up with Singapore’s Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) and Taiwan’s Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI) to provide training. “Quite a few of the potential candidates have been sent to ITRI and they are getting trained there. And when they come back, they will basically be working in these plants,” he said. Separately, Micron has tied up with Ahmedabad-based Nirma University to train them in semiconductor manufacturing, he said.

    Vaishnaw explained that the approach to setting up the manufacturing ecosystem has been to first become self-reliant to first meet domestic needs, and then to become an export hub, that is, move towards “export-oriented manufacturing”. He said that in mobile phones, India is already moving “from becoming self-reliant to export-led growth”. In case of laptops and servers, India is still in the process becoming self-reliant. “Production has started in most of the 30-40 units we permitted. … In that segment, we will still focus on becoming self-reliant, that is, [catering to our] own consumption,” he said.

    “In semiconductor, we will try to be self-reliant first. In semiconductor market, depending upon on the product, it will be a mix of our own use and exports,” Vaishnaw said. “In components, it will have to be at global scale only. In components, you can’t have [manufacturing] at sub-scale. It has to be at global scale otherwise it will not work,” he said.

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