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Government panel seeks local storage of cloud data

The move will raise their costs because they will need to ramp up data centres.

New Delhi: A panel working on the Indian government’s cloud computing policy wants data generated in India to be stored within the country, according to its draft report seen by Reuters, a proposal that could deal a blow to global technology giants such as Amazon and Microsoft who offer such services.

It could not only raise their costs because they will need to ramp up the number and size of data storage centers in India, where power costs remain high, but at least some of those increases are likely to be passed onto customers who include everyone from small start-ups to large Indian corporations.

The policy will be the latest in a series of proposals that seek to spur data localisation in India, as the government finalises an overarching data protection law. Local data storage requirements for digital payments and e-commerce sectors are also being planned.

The authorities want the information stored locally so that they can more easily get access to it when conducting investigations. India’s push for localisation comes at a time of heightened global scrutiny of how companies store user data.

In July, India said its federal police had begun probing Cambridge Analytica’s misuse of Facebook user data, which New Delhi suspects included information on Indian users.

INFRASTRUCTURE CHALLENGES

  • $7 bn The Indian public cloud services market is set to more than double to $7 billion by 2022. Enterprise spending on data center infrastructure software will rise 10% to $3.6 bn in 2018.
  • 80% of India’s data centres supply is concentrated in five cities, the panel said. It recommended conducting a study to identify 20 locations conducive for such infrastructure.
  • The government panel’s draft listed Amazon, IBM and Microsoft among key companies already registered under a government initiative on cloud computing. It also listed Alphabet Inc’s Google, Oracle and Salesforce.com Inc as those with ‘significant presence’.

REPORT TO BE SUBMITTED SOON

  • The draft report of panel, which is headed by co-founder of Indian tech giant Infosys, Kris Gopalakrishnan, said a “forward looking” data protection regime was needed as India’s IT laws framework was “not sufficient” for cloud computing.
  • Cloud computing refers to the provision of software, storage and other services to customers from remote data centres. It allows companies to use programs at lower operational costs as programs and data are not stored at the customer’s own data centres, or on their desktops.
  • Industry executives said many Indian businesses store their data on cloud servers located outside the country and a localisation mandate could force them to migrate data to India.
  • “We recommend localisation of cloud data and any data that is stored about Indian entities or data generated in India,” panel said, adding this data “must be available for investigative agencies and national security agencies.”

(With inputs from Reuters)

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