Tuesday, Sep 27, 2022
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IT Ministry Initiates Public Consultation On Draft Data Accessibility And Use Policy

The draft 'India Data Accessibility and Use Policy' will be applicable to all data and information created, generated and collected by the government directly or through ministries, departments and authorised agencies.

Policy aims to transform India's ability to harness public sector data for social transformation.
Policy aims to transform India's ability to harness public sector data for social transformation.

The IT ministry has come out with a draft policy that proposes a framework for government-to-government data sharing and moots that all data for every government department or its organisation shall be open and sharable by default, with certain riders.

The draft 'India Data Accessibility and Use Policy' -- circulated for public consultation -- will be applicable to all data and information created, generated and collected by the government directly or through ministries, departments and authorised agencies. The policy aims to "radically transform" India's ability to harness public sector data for large scale social transformation.

All data for every government ministry, department and organisation will be open and sharable by default, with certain exceptions, according to the draft policy that outlines an institutional framework entailing 'India Data Office', India Data Council, and Data Management Units as key components.

"Any data sharing shall happen within the legal framework of India, its national policies and legislation as well as the recognised international guidelines," the document said.

India's ambition of becoming a $5 trillion digital economy depends on its ability to harness the value of data, said the draft document.

With that in mind, the India Data Accessibility and Use Policy aim to enhance access, quality and use of data, in line with the current and emerging technology needs of the decade. 

A robust data sharing ecosystem will be unlocked by maximising access and use of quality public sector data, improving policy-making, evaluation and monitoring, and facilitating the creation of public digital platforms. The document also talks of protecting the privacy and security of citizens and streamlining inter-government data sharing.

"This policy will be applicable to all data and information /created/generated/ collected/archived by the Government of India directly or through authorised agencies by various ministries/departments/organisations/agencies and autonomous bodies," it said.

State governments will be free to adopt the provisions and protocols as applicable. 

The overarching principles for data sharing include approaches such as openness by default, transparency in operation, being interoperable, integrated and technology agnostic, privacy and security by design, equal and non-discriminatory access, regulatory clarity and structured enforcement among others.

'India Data Office' is proposed to be set up by the IT ministry to streamline and consolidate data access and sharing of public information repositories across government departments and other stakeholders.

"Every ministry/department shall have data management units headed by chief data officers which will work closely with India Data Office for ensuring implementation of the Data Accessibility and Use Policy," it said.

India Data Council, comprising India Data Officer and Chief Data Officers of departments of central and state governments, will be constituted with the objective of undertaking tasks that require deliberations across ministries, departments and state governments.

All data for every government ministry, department and organisation will be open and shareable by default unless categorised under a negative list of data sets that won't be shared. The exception extends to data categorised under restricted access and shared only with trusted users under a controlled environment.

Elaborating on government-to-government data sharing, it mentions that all ministries and departments will identify existing data assets and create detailed, searchable data inventories.

"Approved inventories will be federated into a government-wide searchable database for government to government data sharing," according to the draft.

This will minimise duplication of data processing efforts and enable better delivery of citizen-centric services.

The policy talks of integrated data portals and high-value data sets. 

Elaborating on pricing and licensing, it moots that minimally processed data sets will be made freely available. Only detailed data sets that have undergone value addition/transformation and qualify for monetisation will be priced appropriately.

"For restricted access data sharing, pricing of datasets as decided by the owner government department or agency must be notified in a transparent manner," it said. The policy seeks to incentivise data sharing through creative licensing frameworks and enable price discovery through novel monetisation models to aid Ministries and Departments for identifying and sharing priced data sets.

 "This draft of the India Data Accessibility and Use Policy has been evolved in consultation with various stakeholders including academia, industry, and government. The draft of the policy is put up for public consultation," the IT Ministry said adding the last date of submitting feedback is March 18, 2022. 

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