India's Data Must be Controlled And Owned by Indians, Says Mukesh Ambani

File photo of Reliance Industries Limited Chairman Mukesh Ambani.

File photo of Reliance Industries Limited Chairman Mukesh Ambani.

Mukesh Ambani also addressed the five areas that India needs to focus on where he said that data will be the mainstay for the changing times ahead.

New Delhi: Weighing in on the raging debate on data localisation, richest Indian Mukesh Ambani on Wednesday said "data colonisation" is as bad as previous forms of colonisation and India's data must be controlled and owned by Indians.

"In this new world, data is the new oil. And data is the new wealth. India's data must be controlled and owned by Indian people and not by corporates, especially global corporations," said Reliance Industries Chairman Mukesh Ambani at an event in Mumbai.

The government wants companies doing business in India to store all customer data locally. It is also considering a draft data-security law that requires data centres for all companies be physically located within India. Also under consideration is an e-commerce policy that requires the storage of customer data in India.

"Fundamentally, I am a big believer in the power of all of us together rather than a power of few. I think that will differentiate China and India in the long-run. My belief is that a decentralised empowered world where everybody being equal is better off than where few people are in power. That is true for data world," he said.

Ambani said the world will have to go from aggregator model to a distributor model as he backed those arguing for preventing foreign companies from repatriating and making money off of Indian consumers' data.

"Important thing is that data of an Indian belongs to him. It does not belong to a corporation, whether it be Indian or global. The only right that the corporation has is exactly like a bank that if I give you a fixed deposit locker and you put your money. which is your data in my locker, it doesn't become mine that I take that money and gamble on the stock market. If I make gain take it and then say I have given back your Rs 100. It doesn't work like that," he said.

The RIL head also spoke about how digital technology had empowered people like nothing before in human history.

He went on to speak about digital media vis-a-vis traditional mass media: "Before digital, so-called mass media was for a passive audience. Social media's very name connotes that it belongs to society as a whole. I believe digital is the greatest friend to democracy."

"Media in the digital age is of the people, for the people and by the people like nothing before."

Explaining his vision for the fourth industrial revolution and how India will be riding the change he said, "Earlier, the world had witnessed 3 industrial revolutions. India only started playing catch-up in the third. The fourth industrial revolution is marked by a fusion of the technological physical and biological worlds. This is powered by data and will be defined by humanism"

He then put forth three reasons as to why India will lead the fourth industrial revolution.

“India today is different from the India of yesteryears. It's a young nation. 63 percent of 1.3 billion are below 35. As a result, our nation is more vibrant than ever before. Each of 1.3 billion can actively participate in the 4th industrial revolution and solve problems,” he said.

Ambani also addressed the five areas that India needs to focus on where he said that data will be the mainstay for the changing times ahead.

“India needs to prepare for the age of digital abundance. Indians will have access to all data on the cloud. Jio is geared towards connecting everything. India today is digitally united,” he said.

The business tycoon then chose to focus on three areas specifically: agriculture, education and healthcare.

Coming back to the fourth industrial revolution, he quoted Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying, "India's contribution towards the fourth industrial Revolution will leave the world stunned". He declared, "This will be prophetic."

Disclaimer: Reliance Industries Ltd, which owns Jio, is the sole beneficiary of Independent Media Trust which controls Network18 Media & Investments Ltd.

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