The Policy Wrap: Talks between Future Group and Amazon unsuccessful, Govt has no plans to introduce cryptocurrency, and more
The Policy Wrap is ADIF’s weekly newsletter on all things policy in the Indus Valley Ecosystem and beyond. Share your feedback and comments with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Highlights from Cisco’s 2022 Data Privacy Benchmark Study
Cisco’s annual Data Privacy Benchmark study is based on a survey of over 4,900 security professionals in 27 countries around the world.
Some key findings from the report are as follows:
Privacy has become essential to organizations’ culture and business practices, including their buying processes, management metrics, and employee areas of responsibility.
Privacy’s Return on Investment (ROI) remains high for the third straight year, with increased benefits, especially for small-to medium-size organizations and higher ROI for more privacy-mature organizations.
Most organizations recognize their responsibility to treat data ethically, but many customers want more transparency and are concerned about the use of data, particularly in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and automated decision making.
Data localization requirements are seen as important but costly.
Aligning privacy with security seems to create financial and maturity advantages, compared to other organizational models.
Paytm says payments bank did not share data with Chinese firms
As per a Bloomberg report, Paytm digital bank was barred from adding new customers because it violated India’s rules by allowing data to be shared with China-based entities that indirectly owned a stake in Paytm Payments Bank.
A Paytm spokesperson refuted the report, stating that Paytm Payments Bank is a homegrown bank and is fully compliant with RBI’s directions on data localisation. They added that “all of the Bank’s data resides within the country. We are true believers of the Digital India initiative, and remain committed to driving financial inclusion in the country.”
The Reserve Bank of India, banned Paytm Payments Bank from accepting new customers, citing certain “material supervisory concerns,” which it did not outline.
Google pledges $3 million for data transfer project
In 2018, Google, Facebook (now Meta), Microsoft and Twitter collaborated to announce Data Transfer Project to create an open-source service-to-service data portability platform so that all internet users across the web could easily move their data between online service providers.
Google has now announced to provide $3 million over the next five years, as well as hundreds of hours of its engineers' time, for the for the Data Transfer Project.
Key Takeaways from event hosted by Ikigai Law
Ikigai Law organised an interactive virtual discussion, ‘Unscramble: Impact of India’s Data Protection Law on Startups’, on February 24, 2022.
As per an event summary recently published, the discussion saw participation from the startup community with representatives from leading fintech, edtech, healthtech, e-commerce and AI services companies.
Ashutosh Senger, lead counsel of Florence Capital (a lending platform), spoke to how the inclusion of NPD is a step towards balancing access to data, but the competitive advantage that proprietary data assets provide cannot be ignored. He indicated the need to balance the interests of the government in putting NPD to use for socio-economic purposes with intellectual property (IP) rights of businesses.
Megha Nambiar, senior legal counsel of HyperVerge (an identity verification and fraud detection platform), added that including NPD creates “a lot of uncertainty into the mix because this is essentially private data that is being encroached upon. And there’s a mandatory element to data sharing which again becomes a problem.”
Manuj Garg, cofounder of MyUpchar (a healthcare platform), added that data is a ‘key currency’ for all startups. There are other provisions under the proposed law that could hurt businesses’ IP rights, like asking them to disclose the ‘fairness’ of algorithms. There is no threshold to define ‘fairness’ yet, and even if such clarification comes in the future, technical know-how about algorithms is not public knowledge.
Aditya Shamlal, legal head of Zeta (a fintech startup), said the law in its current form is ‘compliance heavy’. He believed that newer data centric startups would find it difficult to enter the market and expand when the law comes into force.
Vinita Varghese, head of legal, Urban Company added that “When you talk about implementing the law in the way it is currently drafted, it’s an investment of cost and time for startups and smaller organisation, while for large organisations — who haven’t begun this process — it’s an absolute monstrous undertaking.” She also spoke about data localisation, where she added that its provisions will create compliance challenges because different countries seem to have a different threshold for localisation. She said that a gold standard for data localisation must be business friendly and compatible across jurisdictions.
Competition Commission of India
Competition Commission of India (CCI) clears Amazon's proposal to buy Catamaran's stake in Cloudtail parent
The Competition Commission of India (CCI) cleared Amazon’s proposal to acquire Catamaran Ventures’ entire stake in Prione Business Services Pvt. Ltd., the joint venture between Infosys co-founder N.R. Narayana Murthy’s Catamaran Ventures and the US-based e-commerce giant. Prione Business Services houses Cloudtail, one of the largest retailers on the e-commerce firm’s Indian platform.
Such partnerships face stiff resistance from local trade associations that perceive Amazon and Flipkart as threats to local retailers. Amazon, especially, has faced criticism for giving preferential treatment to vendors that it has active investments in, like Cloudtail. Such preferential treatment is ostensibly against the FDI and e-commerce regulations.
Talks between Future Group and Amazon unsuccessful
The ongoing legal tussle between Amazon and Future Group is over the sale of Future’s retail assets to Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries Ltd. The proposed asset sale deal is worth Rs 24,713 crores entered between Future and Reliance in August 2020.
In October 2020, an emergency arbitrator‘s order had directed a status quo on the transaction between the Future Group and Reliance Retail Ventures Ltd. Since then, the legal dispute between Amazon and Future Group has travelled to multiple legal forums in the last two years, with no end in sight. In the last hearing in the top court, Amazon had proposed a dialogue between the parties to find a resolution and Future Group agreed to participate in the effort.
The Supreme Court was informed that talks between the Future group and Amazon to resolve their dispute, have not been successful.
Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT): Multinational e-commerce firms flouting Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) norms
Releasing a whitepaper on the e-commerce policy, the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) said e-commerce entities have “structured their relationship as marketplace with sellers in a such a way that they are in a position to control either seller on their platform or the inventory and also escape the scrutiny of the enforcement agencies.”
The paper also added that “the mitigating measures and strict action for enforcement of the law in letter and spirit are of paramount importance.. otherwise, the FDI policy on e-commerce will fail in its objective of catering to the interests of domestic manufacturers, traders, sellers, MSMEs, start-ups and creation of level-playing field in retail.”
App Store Ecosystem
Apple Developer Academy opened online classes at Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH)
Korea’s first Apple Developer Academy has opened online classes on March 14. The curriculum will consist of various courses, including coding, design, app business and marketing, and professional skills and processes.
Gordon Shukwit, director of Apple Developer Academy commented on this partnership, highlighting that “The App Store ecosystem is an engine for creativity and economic development, and we can’t wait to see how the 200 students in the first Academy class develop and release new apps and businesses that change the world with their creativity.”
No plans to introduce cryptocurrency, Centre says in Rajya Sabha
Minister of State for Finance Pankaj Chaudhary stated that the government is not planning to introduce a cryptocurrency that will be regulated by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).
He also added that the RBI is currently working towards a phased implementation strategy for the introduction of Central Bank Digital Currency.
Government Schemes/ Initiatives/ Announcements
Union Minister of Commerce & Industry, Piyush Goyal addresses the Indian Venture and Alternate Capital Association’s (IVCA) Conclave
Speaking at the IVCA Conclave, Piyush Goyal said the venture capitalists have played a pivotal role in India’s Startup story and in economic growth of the country.
In his keynote address, he emphasised that “Venture capitalists and Angel investors have a very important role to play in the Startup ecosystem. I remember the Prime Minister had once said that the current decade is going to be the ‘Techade’ of India. And this will be a decade where technology & innovation will drive the future of Indian economy, whether it is UPI or Cowin. Today we are showing to the whole world what Indian capabilities are and how we can leverage digital platforms from mass transformation of the lives of a billion plus people.”
He also said the IVCA can act as a golden bridge between the government, startups, market and consumers and promote innovation. He also mentioned that the Startup Advisory Council recognises there is a large pool of talent in the interiors of India, and called on venture capital funds to reach out to the tier 3 and 4 towns.
With inputs from The Quantum Hub.