Google chief executive officer (CEO) Sundar Pichai during his August 29 meeting with IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad sought two more months from the government to comply with the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) norms to store all the data related to its payment service, Google Pay, in the country. The RBI’s deadline ends in October. “Pichai in his meeting with Prasad assured the minister that Google Pay will comply with all the regulations related to digital payment services in India. He, however, sought two months additional time to comply with the RBI notification,” a senior government official said on Monday.
In April, the central bank directed payment system operators to store all data, including full end-to-end transaction details and information collected, in the country to ensure security of users’ information. Operators were asked to comply with instructions within six months, i.e. by October 15, 2018. When contacted, a Google spokesperson said, “We maintain that cross border data flows today are ubiquitous and an essential phenomenon for global economic activity and universal access to information. Soaring data flows generate more economic value, and hence the socioeconomic impact of restricting data flows must be thoroughly considered while framing any policy. There is a need to find practical and contemporary solutions to policy issues in line with global best practices. We have nothing to add at this point of time.”
Pichai urged Prasad to allow free flow of data across borders. Pichai said he appreciates the government’s efforts in creating a conducive business environment in India. In a letter to Prasad later, he urged that free flow of data across borders, with a focus on user privacy and security, will encourage start-ups to innovate and expand globally and encourage global companies to contribute to India’s digital economy.
On data localisation, tech companies, including Google, are of the view that storing data within the country could have an adverse socioeconomic impact on innovation, information, technology access and trade. These companies say except national security issues, there should be no general requirement to store data locally. Data localisation requirements could pose an additional burden on service providers. Small and medium-sized enterprises would particularly face the brunt of such requirements.