IT in India: Tech firms warned to protect user privacy and prevent abuse

Technology firms must protect user privacy and prevent abuse of their platforms. This is according to India's IT minister, speaking on Thursday as the government draws up a data privacy law. It also seeks to push companies to store more data locally.

Federal Information and Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said he wanted Indians to have access to more technology platforms. However, he said this should not undermine user privacy.

At a gathering organised by Google in New Delhi, Prasad told industry executives: "I have only one caveat - it must be safe and secure, it must safeguard the privacy rights of the individual and you must make extra efforts that people don't abuse the system,"

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India's 1.3 billion people and their massive consumption of mobile data has turned it into a key growth market for U.S. technology giants such as Google, Facebook and Amazon. India has already forced foreign payment firms such as Mastercard Inc and Visa Inc to store data locally.

Technology firms have been concerned that the government's drive to step up measures to boost local data storage will increase investment costs.

Google said at the event that it had launched a new job-search feature on its Google Pay platform. This is used by 67 million people in a month and competes with SoftBank-backed Paytm and Walmart Inc's PhonePe.

Google also expanded its artificial intelligence-based voice assistant service to feature phones. It did this by partnering with one of India's top telecom carriers in a country where more than 300 million use 2G devices.

Source: Reuters New Delhi, 19 September 2019

Reporting: Sankalp Phartiyal

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