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India is Now an Important Digital Power, Will Never Compromise on Data Security: Ravi Shankar Prasad

File image of IT and Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad

File image of IT and Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad

Prasad's comments come days after the Centre blocked 59 Chinese apps on concerns around "sovereignty and security".

  • PTI
  • Last Updated: July 7, 2020, 7:16 PM IST
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Union IT and Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Tuesday said India is an "important digital power" and will not compromise on its data sovereignty. Speaking at the launch of a Rs 1,100-crore data centre built by Hiranandani Group company Yotta, Prasad also said that he aspires India to be a centre for data refining, which will include data cleaning and data research as well while keeping in mind concerns on privacy.

The comments from the minister come days after the country blocked 59 Chinese apps on concerns around "sovereignty and security". A day after that, Prasad had termed the move as a "digital strike" and added that the apps were banned to protect data of citizens. "We shall never compromise on data sovereignty of India. India being an important digital power, our data sovereignty will be very very important. And we shall ensure that we are never made to do any compromise, nor we will do that (compromise)," Prasad said, speaking at the data centre launch event on Tuesday.

He said cybersecurity is an important aspect and we should be very cautious about things. Prasad used the metaphor of a highway to stress that infrastructure building should not stop because of accidents, stressing that being cautious is the key. Prasad, who handles the electronics, information technology and communications portfolios, said India needs to grow into a data refining centre for the world and also go deeper on the software front by creating products of its own.

"With the success of digital India (campaign), India must become a big refinery of data cleaning and processing," the IT minister said, adding that concerns on data privacy should be taken on board while doing so. He said despite accounting for 20 per cent of the world's internet users, India is far behind from a data consumption front, at only 2 per cent.

At the same time, there are huge projects like the direct benefit transfer, which has helped the government save over Rs 1.70 lakh crore in the last few years, or over 3 crore Aadhaar confirmations happening every three minutes wherein data is generated, he said. India is generating a lot of data, the question is how do we use the same, he said.

The data centre christened "Yotta NM1", dubbed as the largest in Asia was inaugurated by Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray at the virtual ceremony also attended by Prasad. Yotta's chief executive Sunil Gupta told PTI that it is the first in five buildings which have come up adjacent to the Hiranandani Group's township off the Mumbai-Pune Highway, having 7,200 racks and power consumption requirement of 50 MW.

The company is starting with 7-8 enterprise customers who are taking a suite of services and is negotiating with large-scale 'hyperscalers' like cloud companies who will be taking bigger space. However, deal sign-ups are taking time because of the COVID-19 crisis as potential clients are waiting for things to settle down, he said. Gupta said the company was targeting to inaugurate the facility by late-March but the COVID-19 crisis pushed things.

When asked about the impact of the ban of Chinese apps, he said the blocked platforms like Tiktok used to host a bulk of their data out of Chinese data centres but were in the process of localising it within India, which means some business lost. However, he was quick to add that one of the pre-conditions which can be set by the Indian government to allow them back in the future may be on the condition of data being stored locally, which will be a big opportunity for the local data centres.

Yotta envisages to invest upwards of Rs 15,000 crore in the data centres over the next 7-10 years and Gupta explained starting a new building construction depends on over 50 per cent of the constructed space getting occupied by clients.

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