Data handling a challenge in e-governance: IT Secretary

State IT Secretary K. Mohammed Y. Safirulla has cited handling and protecting data without compromising on data privacy and stifling entrepreneurship as key challenges in e-governance. He was addressing a session on โ€˜Legal and Policy Dimensions โ€“ Way Forwardโ€™ with regard to e-governance on the second day of Kerala Looks Ahead, an international conference and consultation being organised by the Kerala State Planning Board virtually, on Tuesday.

He emphasised the need to handle and protect data in adherence to rules and regulations without compromising on data privacy. While there are enough protective mechanisms at data centres and private networks, proper cyber security still remains a challenge though it should be done without stifling start-ups and projects emerging in evolving areas, Mr. Safirulla said.

Apar Gupta, executive director of the Internet Freedom Foundation, said that transparency and civic participation should be ensured in the deployment of technology in governance. Innovation is an invention to adapt to meet human needs, and should be rooted in foundational principles of Constitution, he said.

Speaking about privacy issues in public service applications, Subhashis Banerjee, professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at IIT Delhi, said: โ€œA bunch of sporadic lawsuits is not the best way to change our relationships with bureaucracies. There must be a regulatory system to protect individual rights irrespective of level of consent.โ€

N. Subramanian, senior director (R&D) at the Centre for Development of Advance Computing, cited a national strategy for Artificial Intelligence (AI), draft policy on Internet of Things (IoT), and making India 5G-ready as imperatives while lecturing on data security and privacy aspects in the context of 5G/IoT and AI.

Emotional recognition

Vidushi Marda, a lawyer and researcher working on the societal implications of AI, raised the questionable science behind emotional recognition in the context of the Lucknow policeโ€™ move to deploy facial recognition technology to identify women in distress. โ€œEven before we raise questions about data privacy and accuracy we must question its scientific basis especially with it predicted to be a 6.5 billion worth business in the next five years,โ€ she said.

Divij Joshi, lawyer and researcher, warned that automated decision making in public administration delegates policy making to creators of computer programmes who would be usually private actors.

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