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Delhi: Data belongs to individuals, not companies, says TRAI

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New Delhi: Data belongs to individual users, TRAI has said, urging strong safeguards against misuse. It has further suggested that consumers be given the right to choice, consent and to be forgotten to safeguard their privacy. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India on Monday released its recommendations on privacy, security and ownership of data in the telecom sector, wherein it has said that each user owns his/her personal data stored with entities in the digital ecosystem. The entities, controlling and processing such data, are mere custodians and do not have primary rights over this data, it has underscored.

The TRAI has further recommended that a study should be undertaken to formulate the standards for anonymization/de-identification of personal data generated and collected in the digital eco-system. The authority further mentions that the existing framework for protection of the personal information/ data of telecom consumers is not sufficient. “To protect telecom consumers against the misuse of their personal data by the broad range of data controllers and processors in the digital ecosystem, all entities in the digital ecosystem, which control or process their personal data should be brought under a data protection framework,” it adds.

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TRAI said that till such time a general data protection  law is notified by the government, the existing rules/licence conditions applicable to telecom service providers for protection of users’ privacy be made applicable to all the entities in the digital ecosystem. Consumer programs be undertaken to spread awareness about data protection and privacy issues so that the users can take well informed decisions about their personal data, the sector regulator suggested. Also, data controllers should be prohibited from using ‘pre-ticked boxes’ to gain users consent. Devices should disclose the terms and conditions of use in advance, before sale of the device, it has said.


Decryption should be permitted on a need basis by authorised entities in accordance with consent of the consumer or as per requirement of the law.