Regulating Data & India’s Digital Economy

There has been an explosion of data flows that have created new markets, improved existing markets, disrupted businesses, and simultaneously created new business models, and delivered new monopolies and, of course, new politics. Digital information carried over pipes and air waves are unlike any previous resource – it is mined, refined, valued, bought and sold in ways that are Annual Report 2018-19 46 challenging traditional market principles of pricing and property rights among others. It changes the rules for markets and perhaps demands a new approach from regulators. Many economists are of the view that the task of government is to take necessary steps to ensure that all impediments to the proper functioning of markets are removed, i.e., regulation ought to be minimal. On the other hand, there are those who support a more active role for public policy since market failures can be pervasive. The key to effective government intervention, therefore, lies not in demonstrating the existence of market failures but rather in identifying the nature of the intervention that would make it worthwhile. For the data economy, this is vital and perhaps more complicated. One of the chief tasks in this research programme will be to understand the functioning of markets in the data economy, the associated size and the conduct of firms therein. Transparency and trust (or lack thereof) will be crucial attributes underlying the analysis. Under this study, a total of six discussion papers on identified themes will be produced. These are (i) Data in the Digital Economy: Concepts and Value(s), (ii) Minors in the Digital Economy and Challenges in Age Verification, (iii) Regulatory Burden to Small and Medium Businesses due to Data Localisation Policies, (iv) Identification and Authentication in India’s Fin-Tech Ecosystem, (v) Privacy Regulation in Action: Stakeholder Roles and Responsibilities and (vi) Data in the Digital Economy: India’s Role in Emerging Global Regimes, Framework for New Economics of the Data Driven Economy. Compiling the analysis from the six papers, a comprehensive research report on ‘New Economics for the Data Economy’ will be prepared. It will assimilate the analysis from the discussion papers and provide new thinking on sustainable solutions to regulate data in the digital economy.