India was wise to pause its data privacy law: Microsoft

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Microsoft president and vice-chairman Brad Smith said that India’s move to rethink its data privacy law was “an act of wisdom” as India becomes one of the most influential nations in terms of the future of technology regulation.

His comments follow the Indian government’s decision to withdraw the Personal Data Protection Bill last month. The Bill had been in the works for nearly five years.

The Indian government has said that the Bill would be replaced by a comprehensive legal framework that will be designed to address contemporary and future challenges of the digital ecosystem.

India playing an ‘influential role’

“There are certain countries that are the most influential when it comes to the future of technology regulation. The European Union, United Kingdom, the United States, China, and India. Followed closely by a country like Australia, which continues to be a fast mover, and a very well-informed government,” Smith was quoted as saying by the Economic Times. “India is playing a very influential role in the world. I think the influence of India will only grow, in part because digital technology is so important.”

Smith said he typically worries that governments try to work so quickly to develop laws and regulations in many fast-evolving fields at once that they aren’t able to pause and think through how all those different pieces fit together.

“That notion, that a government would pause, to think about how a privacy law should move with a better connection to other fields – that’s an act of wisdom,” he said.

Smith said that India has also taken an extraordinary leap digitally in the global economy, making five years’ worth of progress over the last two years during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“India has long been one of the world’s major sources of talent for the software field, a great creator of software IP. But I think it’s now joining the ranks of the top two or three software economies in the world and has become a software superpower. One significant part of this is the Indian data stack…it’s unparalleled in the world,” Smith said.

Time to migrate to the cloud

He added that India is now well positioned to become one of the great data capitals of the world, though it will also need to more fully embrace the cloud.

Microsoft has doubled its data centre capacity in the last two years in India, Smith said, adding that he is hopeful that India’s cloud migration journey will offer an opportunity to the country going forward.

“As a company, we have provided digital infrastructure for many countries. When you look at where India is and at the digital in the data stack, it hasn’t yet migrated to the cloud. It will need to migrate to the cloud. I think we have a better cloud than anyone else, both because of the technology and the features,” Smith added.

Related article: India dumps privacy bill that alarmed big tech

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