30th May – Moving beyond geopolitics

Moving beyond geopolitics

Deeper issues arising due to the pandemic are slowly emerging as the world relaxes lockdown measures.

Shift in geopolitics –

  • Issues, especially those relating to the convergence of technologies such as biotechnology, genetic engineering and information technology, will have a long-term impact on geopolitics.
  • National governments, policymakers, and healthcare researchers are using technology and data to plan and improve economic activities, social development, and treat deadly diseases more effectively than ever before.

Significance of data in geopolitics –

  • The nature of technology and data has placed tech giants such as Google, Facebook and Amazon in a commanding position. Access to data on a majority of the population makes these giants stronger when they enter the negotiating room with governments.
  • Tech giants are taking a leading role in geopolitics, at times playing on their own and sometimes as proxies of nation states to influence policymaking and national regulations. The U.S.-China trade war, the position of governments on Huawei 5G technology, and Facebook’s attempt to implement internet.org are a few examples.

Need for regulation –

  • The current data system is one where the incentives align with the creation and spread of technological innovations but not their governance.
  • Across the world, data protection laws (GDPR of EU and CLOUD Act of USA), requirements of data localisation, laws related to weakening of encryption keys and data retention requirements are by and large patchwork. They have issues relating to data localisation and cross-border flow of information.
  • With data flow set to become more important over time, we need government regulations and standard and inter-operable frameworks to govern issues and address risks emerging from these technological innovations.

What needs to be done?

  • Digital equity will require frameworks relating to governance of technology and data that look beyond geopolitical considerations.
  • We need to distinguish individual data from large global data sets. We cannot extrapolate the current human rights framework to human rights in the digital and biological domain.
  • The current concept of privacy and cross-border flow of information may require significant change. There is a dire need to impose obligations for data flow on countries and tech giants in the larger interest of mankind.
  • We need to establish a baseline of global norms of data governance that go beyond privacy and geopolitical considerations. These norms must focus on mechanisms to leverage data to solve problems and ensure consistency, interoperability, privacy and security.
  • It is the right time for a Parliament select committee to look at the data protection framework. At the same time we need to identify an international body to evolve global norms on data governance.

SourceThe Hindu

QUESTION – Data has become the new driver of geopolitics. Unhindered flow of data is leading to centralisation of data threatening the digital equity model which is desirable for the mankind. Discuss the need for regulating data in terms of access, privacy and security.

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