Union Electronics and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Wednesday (22 July) said that digital platforms anywhere in the world should be accountable and responsive towards the sovereign concerns of countries, such as defense, privacy, and security of citizens.

In his address at the virtual meeting of G20 Digital Economy Ministers, hosted by Saudi Arabia which is holding the presidency of G20, he emphasized data-related issues and sovereign rights of countries to protect data privacy and security of its citizens.

Prasad’s statement comes weeks after the government banned 59 Chinese apps, including Bytedance’s TikTok, Alibaba’s UC Browser, among others, citing security concerns. The union electronics and information technology ministry had 29 June said that the apps were engaged in activities that are ‘prejudicial to the sovereignty and integrity of India, defense of India, security of the state and public order’. Besides, this is also the first time since the ban that India and China’s digital ministers were on the G20 platform.

“Digital economy must go hand in hand with the data economy. We need to acknowledge the sovereignty over data. Data must belong to sovereign nation concerned, to protect also the privacy concern of its people,” he said.

Prasad also said that there is a need for building trustworthy Artificial Intelligence systems that can transform society.

Further, in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, he emphasized the need for building a resilient global supply chain and shared the government’s vision for making India an attractive destination for investment closely integrated with global supply chains.

“Yes, we understand the issue of data innovation, data crossflow but we also need to acknowledge sovereignty over data…who has the sovereign right over the data.

“And, we are very clear that data must belong to the sovereign nation concerned to protect also the privacy of its people, to protect the digital concerns of its people and obviously giving good occasion for innovation, enterprise, data cleaning, data refining, all have to have a proper balancing aspect,” Prasad said.

Mean-while, New coronavirus cases in India rose 45,720 in the past 24 hours, pushing the total Covid-19 tally in India over 12 lakh mark today, while the total number of recoveries crossed 7.82 lakh, according to the Union Health Ministry data. The death toll due to the disease rose to 29,861 with 1,129 fatalities reported in one day.

The data updated today showed that the total number of COVID-19 cases stands at 12,38,635.