Billionaire Mukesh Ambani on Friday backed the proposed data privacy and cryptocurrency bills, saying India is putting in place the most forward-looking policies and regulations.
Ambani, who has been a votary of Indians owning and controlling their own data and the nation drafting strict rules around how digital information is stored and shared, said nations have the right to build and protect strategic digital infrastructure.
Stating that data is the ‘new oil’, he said every citizen’s right to privacy has to be safeguarded.
“India is putting in place the most forward-looking policies and regulations,” he said at the Infinity Forum, hosted by International Financial Services Centres Authority (IFSCA).
The country, he said, already has a great framework of digital identity – through Aadhaar, digital bank accounts and digital payments.
“We are on the verge of introducing data privacy bill, and the cryptocurrency bill. I think we are on the right track,” he said.
The comments came as the government looks to bring a new bill in Parliament to treat cryptocurrencies as a financial asset while safeguarding small investors. The legislation may stipulate a minimum amount for investments in digital currencies while banning their use as legal tender.
The legislative agenda for the current winter session of Parliament that started on November 29 lists bringing of a bill that seeks to prohibit all private cryptocurrencies except “certain exceptions to promote the underlying technology of cryptocurrency and its uses.” While the government is considering taxing gains from cryptocurrency, the Reserve Bank of India wants a complete ban on digital currencies as it feels this could affect the nation’s macroeconomic and financial stability.
“Data and digital infrastructure is strategically important for India and every other nation in the world. Every country has the right to build and protect this strategic digital infrastructure,” he said adding a uniform global standard was needed so that cross-border transactions, collaborations and partnerships are not hampered.
Stating that every citizen’s right to privacy has to be safeguarded, he said the right policies and the right regulatory framework have to balance this with the nation’s need to guard data and digital infrastructure.
Ambani, chairman and managing director of Reliance Industries Ltd, said that he was a big believer in blockchain technology.
“I believe in blockchain technology and this is different from cryptocurrency,” he said, adding, “Blockchain is very important for a trust-based, equitable society.” While the bill for regulating cryptocurrency is in the works, RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das is among those who feel that the blockchain technology underpinning cryptocurrencies could exist on its own, even without the currency.
“Using blockchain, we can deliver unprecedented security, trust, automation and efficiency to almost any type of transaction,” Ambani said. “It can be used to modernize our supply chains that form the lifeblood of our economies.” India is now well on its way to transforming itself into a leading Digital Society, having put the digital infrastructure, and the regulatory framework in place.