QUESTION : Data localisation, despite its many advantages, may eventually do more harm than good. Comment..
A MISSED OPPORTUNITY
Personal Data related issues
WHY IN NEWS ?
The Gopalakrishnan Committee set up by the government on developing a governance framework for non-personal data recently put out its draft report for public consultations.
- The Committee of Experts on the Non-Personal Data Governance Framework headed by K Gopalakrishnan has recommended making privately held non-personal data “open”.
- This has raised concerns about state interference in the private data ecoystem.
- Non-personal data are data that do not identify an individual.
- Non-personal data sets can be useful in either framing public policy or creating and providing new services. Non-personal data are viewed as critical for the development of the AI ecosystem.
PERSONAL DATA PROTECTION BILL 2019 :
The Personal Data Protection (PDP) Bill, 2019, was introduced in the Lok Sabha and is now referred to a joint select committee.
Why is the law important?
- Collection of information about individuals and their online habits has become an important source of profits, but also a potential avenue for invasion of privacy because it can reveal extremely personal aspects.
- Companies, governments, and political parties find it valuable because they can use it to find the most convincing ways to advertise online.
- To prevent the breach of privacy and unwarranted advertising, this bill was a necessity.
IMPORTANCE OF DATA COLLECTED BY GOVERNMENT AGENCIES :
- The report is a missed opportunity to address the governance frameworks around data created by government agencies.
- Some of the most important non-personal data sets are held by the government, or result from taxpayer funding.
- Such data can be useful in either framing public policy or creating and providing new services.
WHY GOVERNMENT DATA SHOULD BE OPEN TO CITIZENS :
- First, the state should be transparent about information that it has. This will improve accountability.
- Second, if taxpayer money has funded any of the data sets, then it is an obligation of the state to return the fruits of that funding to the taxpayer.
- Third, by permitting the reuse of government data sets, we avoid the need for duplication.
- Fourth, government data sets, curated according to publicly verified standards, can lead to increased confidence in data quality and increased usage.
- Finally, free flow of information can have beneficial effects on society in general.
GOVERNMENT POLICIES PROMOTING OPENNESS OF DATA :
- The Right to Information (RTI) Act, 2005, mandates the disclosure of government data on a suo moto basis.
- One of the nine pillars of the Digital India Policy is “information for all”.
- The National Data Sharing and Accessibility Policy (NDSAP), 2012 requires all non-sensitive information held by public authorities to be made publicly accessible in machine readable formats (subject to conditions).
- The government has also set up an Open Government Data Platform to provide open access to data sets held by ministries and other agencies of the government.
- Various States have also either created their own data portals or have provided data sets to the Open Government Data Platform.
CHALLENGES IN MAKING THE DATA OPEN TO SOCIETY :
- There are two reasons for our failure to create an open data-based society.
- The first is lack of clarity in some of the provisions of the NDSAP or the relevant implementation guidelines.
- The second is the inability to enforce guidelines appropriately.
- Data sets released by governments are often inconsistent, incomplete, outdated, published in non-machine readable or inconsistent formats, include duplicates, and lack quality (or any) metadata, thereby reducing re-usability.
ISSUES WITH GOPALAKRISHNANA COMMITTEE REPORT :
- The Gopalakrishnan Committee could have evaluated what is going wrong with existing policies and practice pertaining to government data.
- The report is a missed opportunity to address the governance frameworks around non-personal data sets in a country created by government agencies, or those resulting from taxpayer money.
- The report largely focuses on the dangers posed by data collection by private sector entities.
- This has raised concerns about state interference in the private data ecoystem.
- Many of the concerns that should be addressed in the report that are central to the governance of the data ecosystem have remained in the background.
- For instance, India’s cybersecurity framework continues to be inadequate, while even the Justice B.N. Srikrishna Committee report of 2018 highlighted the need to restrict the growing power of the state to carry out surveillance.
DATA LOCALISATION :
It is the practice of storing data on any device that is physically present within the borders of the country where the data is generated.
BENEFITS OF DATA LOCALISATION :
- Help in Maintenance of law and order
o Public order related incidents such as lynching across the country which are linked to WhatsApp rumours and fake news can be dealt with due to proper surveillance.
- Better implementation of social programs due to proper statistics collection.
- Security against foreign attacks and surveillance.
- It is considered necessary due to the slow and outdated processes of the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty(MLAT).
WAY FORWARD :
- Data governance being a relatively new concept in India, the government must take an incremental approach to reforms.
- Before trying to reform private sector data governance structure, the reforms should begin with reforming how the government itself deals with citizens’ data. This would result in greater trust in data governance practices and also allow the development of state capacity to govern the data ecosystem.
QUESTIONS : Describe the role of women in armed forces and important challenges they have been facing since independence.
VICTORY IN A LONG BATTLE FOR EQUAL OPPORTUNITIES
Permanent Commission for Women
WHY IN NEWS ?
The Supreme Court of India recently delivered a much-anticipated ruling that allows women to serve as permanently commissioned (PC) officers in 10 combat support arms and services of the Indian Army.
- The Indian Army had already set in motion a series of preparatory actions for the conduct of the Permanent Commission Selection Board for affected women officers.
- The associated Selection Board will be scheduled as soon as all affected Short Service Commissioned (SSC) women officers exercise their option and complete requisite documentation.
- The order specifies the grant of Permanent Commission (PC) to Short Service Commissioned (SSC) women officers in all the 10 streams of the Army in which they presently serve.
Supreme Court verdict in February 2020
- The order follows an earlier Supreme Court verdict in February,2020 that directed the government that women Army officers be granted PC and command postings in all services other than combat.
- The court said the “101 excuses” devised by the government to deter women from being on a par with men, including motherhood and physiological limitations, reeks of a stereotypical mindset.
- The battle for gender equality is about confronting the battles of the mind.
- The Supreme Court at that time ordered the government to implement its decision in three months.
SIGNIFICANCE OF THE JUDGEMENT :
- Equal physiologically: Women officers of the Indian Army have brought laurels to the force. Keeping their track record in mind their service to the nation can never be denied and it is beyond reproach.
- Everyone serving in the Army is an equal citizen: To cast aspersion on the abilities of women on the ground of gender is an affront.
- Dignity of women: It is disrespecting not only their dignity as women but the dignity of the members of the Indian Army men and women both as they both serve as equal citizens in a common mission.
- Demolished gender stereotypes: Women officers in the Army are not adjuncts to a male-dominated establishment.
CONSTITUTIONAL PROVISIONS FOR WOMEN :
- Equality before law for women (Article 14)
- The State not to discriminate against any citizen on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth or any of them (Article 15 (i))
- Article 39: The State directs its policy towards securing for men and women equally the right to an adequate means of livelihood (Article 39(a)); and equal pay for equal work for both men and women (Article 39(d).
- The State to make provision for securing just and humane conditions of work and for maternity relief (Article 42).
POSSIBLE CHALLENGES TO WOMEN BEING IN FRONTLINE COMBAT POSITIONS :
- Physical Issues: The natural physical differences in stature, strength, and body composition between the sexes make women more vulnerable to certain types of injuries and medical problems.
- Physiological Issues: The natural processes of menstruation and pregnancy make women particularly vulnerable in combat situations
- Social Issues: The issue of military sexual trauma (MST) and its effect on the physical and mental well-being of women combatants is grave.
- Conventional Barriers: The acceptance of women officers by their male counterparts is still in question, as most of the male officers are predominantly drawn from rural backgrounds.
PERMANENT COMMISSION(PC) Vs. SHORT SERVICE COMMISSION (SSC) :
- SSC means an officer’s career will be of a limited period in the Indian Armed Forces whereas a PC means they shall continue to serve in the Indian Armed Forces, till they retire.
- The officers inducted through the SSC usually serve for a period of 14 years. At the end of 10 years, the officers have three options.
- A PC entitles an officer to serve in the Navy till he/she retires unlike SSC, which is currently for 10 years and can be extended by four more years, or a total of 14 years.
- They can either select for a PC or opt-out or have the option of a 4-years extension. They can resign at any time during this period of 4 years extension.
WAY FORWARD :
- There is a need to sincerely implement the new reform. This would require a change in the current mindset and need gender sensitization among the stakeholders.
- The physical and mental standards for the role must be uniform and gender-neutral.
- The professional standards must be adhered to without any gender bias.
- Administrative issues should not be cited as a barrier to women’s entry in the Armed Forces. It is the responsibility of the Government to create both administrative and social infrastructure for the easy induction of women into the Armed Forces.
- The framework for the induction of women should be incorporated into a policy. As for the concern of preserving the female officers’ modesty and dignity, there should be elaborate codes of conduct to ensure no adverse incident occurs.
- Misleading information such as using the patriarchal nature of the society as an excuse to deny women their deserving opportunities should be stopped. India has come a long way, and the society should be supportive of women being inducted in to combat roles.