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India’s upcoming technology regulations are back in focus with new ministers taking charge at the ministry of electronics and information technology (Meity). They will have their task cut out in easing tensions between the government and big tech firms. Mint explains:

What tech regulations is India working on?

With the IT rules out of the way, India has three big technology regulations in the works. These include a Personal Data Protection (PDP) Bill that is akin to the European General Data Privacy Regulation and will set the stage for how big technology firms operate in the country; a National Cybersecurity Strategy with 80 deliverables that provide for data security and may also have an impact on the country’s telecom sector; and a cryptocurrency bill that regulates the future of digital currencies in the country. The cryptocurrency bill may also set the framework for a central bank digital currency in India.

What is the status of these regulations?

A draft of the PDP Bill was seen in 2019. A Data Protection Authority will be formed and will take steps to protect the interest of individuals in India, according to the draft. But the bill has been criticized for possibly bestowing too much power on government agencies, which could be misused. Newly appointed minister of state Rajeev Chandrasekhar had said in December that the bill won’t be cleared in its current form. On the other hand, finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman has said the government will take a “calibrated" approach to crypto, though fears remain that the upcoming bill might ban crypto trading in India.

In the works
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In the works

Is internet the only part of India’s tech regulations?

India has also been trying to attract electronics manufacturers to India. It has already introduced production-linked incentive (PLI) schemes for mobile and IT hardware manufacturing and is working on a plan to attract semiconductor and display manufacturers to India. These could significantly impact the exports of electronic goods.

When could these rules be introduced?

The IT rules are already in effect, but the other three are yet to come. National cybersecurity coordinator Rajesh Pant has said the cyber-security strategy will be introduced later this year, while the finance minister has said the cabinet note for the crypto bill is ready, raising expectations that it will be tabled in the monsoon session of Parliament. A parliamentary panel had been deliberating on the PDP Bill for a long time and had asked for an extension during the budget session in March. It received the extension till the monsoon session.

What does the cabinet reshuffle mean?

Many industry experts say the cabinet reshuffle may be a good thing for the future of regulations. Chandrasekhar has been close to the technology sector during his career and is said to understand its intricacies well. He also founded BPL Mobile in 1994, which was the largest mobile network operator at the time. Ashwini Vaishnaw, the IT minister, is an alumnus of IIT Kanpur. It is believed that his first task would be to ease the tensions between the Union government and big technology companies.

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