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US Senators write to PM Modi; urge to soften stance on India’s data localisation policy

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Washington | Two top American Senators have asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to adopt a soft stance on data localisation, warning that India’s policy on the issue will adversely affect American businesses in the country. Data localisation is an act of storing data on any device that is physically present within the borders of a particular country where the data was generated.

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI), in a circular in April, said all system providers will have to ensure that the entire data relating to payment systems operated by them are stored in a system only in India. It gave time till October 15 to comply with the mandate.

In a letter to Prime Minister Modi dated Friday, US Sentors John Cornyn and Mark Warner — who also hold top leadership positions in their own parties — have opposed the data localisation requirement of the Indian government.

“Data localisation requirements, such as those contained in the draft data protection bill and draft national e-commerce policy framework, will have negative impacts on the ability of companies to do business in India, may undermine your own economic goals, and will likely not improve the security of Indian citizens’ data,” they said.

Cornyn from the Republican Party and Warner from the Democratic Party are co-chairs of the powerful Senate India Caucuses. When companies adopt high-quality privacy safeguards, the location of data has no bearing on whether the data is secure, they argued.

“In addition to effectively reducing data security, forced data localisation requirements create inefficiencies for both businesses and consumers, raising the cost of procuring and delivering data services including ones that local Indian businesses utilize on a daily basis, the Senators said.

“Ultimately, they also increase the cost, and/or reduce the availability of, data-dependent services,” said the letter, a copy of which has been obtained by PTI.

The two Senators said that forced data localisation will also be counterproductive when it comes to India modernising its framework regarding law enforcement requests for data.

“Both the protection and security of data-as well as access to data for lawful purposes-can be enabled without a requirement that data be stored in a specific physical location. We encourage increased dialogue on these issues between law enforcement agencies in the US and India,” the powerful Senators wrote.

The letter comes amidst reports that major American IT companies are up in arms against the latest Indian directive.

American financial companies are believed to have approached the administration against the RBI directive which, beginning October 15, requires them to store in India any payment-related data from transactions that take place inside the country. India has rejected their request of mirroring.

On Friday, Deputy US Trade Representative and US Ambassador to the WTO Dennis Shea said that the US wants to prohibit data localisation to ensure that there is a free flow of information across borders.

“We want to have prohibitions on data localisation to ensure that there’s free flow of information, free flow of data across borders, disciplines around countries requiring companies to give up their source code, permanent ban on taxation or duties on digital transmissions,” Shea said. Shea did not specifically pointed out India on the data localisation issue, but made his views pretty clear where the Trump administration stands on this issue.

Republican Strategist Andy Surabian, who is also a political adviser to Donald Trump Jr, wrote in BreitBart News last week that if implemented, this policy will put an unnecessary burden on American companies and hurt consumers, who will endure higher costs and increased cybersecurity risks.

Meanwhile, mobile messaging platform WhatsApp has said it has built a system that stores payments-related data in India, in line with RBI’s data localisation policy.

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Tremendous efforts made to catch absconding former minister: Bihar DGP

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Manju Verma

Patna | Under fire from the Supreme Court over its inability to arrest absconding former minister Manju Verma, the Bihar Police on Friday asserted that it was making tremendous efforts to nab the suspended Janata Dal (United) leader.

The Supreme Court on Monday rapped the state police for failing to arrest Verma in connection with an Arms Act case, which cropped up in course of the CBI probe into the Muzaffarpur shelter home sex scandal. It directed Director General of Police K S Dwivedi to appear before it in person on November 27 if she was not nabbed by then.

In reply to a query, the DGP said Friday attempts were being made to secure her arrest. “We are making tremendous efforts.” Dwivedi said no time-frame could be given for the arrest of any person wanted in a criminal case. “Though we appreciate the concern expressed by the Supreme Court, we hope to trace her very soon.”

The officer said some objection was raised from Verma’s side before a court in Begusarai district when they tried to initiate proceedings for attaching her property. “We are working to get that resolved,” he added. The former minister had last week moved an application before the Begusarai court, through her lawyer, pleading that she not be treated as an absconder as she was not evading arrest, but trying to seek relief as per law.

Verma had stepped down as the minister for social welfare in August, following reports that her husband, Chandrashekhar Verma, had close links with Brajesh Thakur , the prime accused in the Muzaffarpur shelter home sex scandal.

During a raid by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) at her in-laws’ residence in Begusarai, a huge quantity of ammunition was recovered, following which the agency lodged an FIR against the couple. The former ministers’ pleas for anticipatory bail have been rejected by the lower court as well as the Patna High Court. Her husband surrendered before a Begusarai court last month after several weeks of dodging the police.

An embarrassed JD(U), headed by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, said Thursday it had suspended her from the primary membership of the party. Meanwhile, the Rashtriya Janata Dal and the Hindustani Awam Morcha have accused the ruling party of shielding the absconding two-time MLA.

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Sabarimala row : Police have asked me to return to Pune: Trupti Desai

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Kochi | Amid over a 12-hour stand-off with devotees and others, including BJP workers, at the airport here vowing not to let her proceed to the Sabarimala shrine, activist Trupti Desai said police have asked her to return to Pune. The development comes even as the doors to the Lord Ayyappa temple opened for the “Mandala Makkaravillakku” puja.

The activist, who reached here around 4.40 am along with six young women en route to the hill temple, has been unable to come out of the airport, with the protesters saying her group would not be allowed to proceed to the Sabarimala temple. Desai said police officers held a meeting with her. “Police have requested me to return to Pune,” she told reporters. Desai said she will announce her decision by 6.30 pm.

Protesting local BJP leaders at the airport said the devotees, including women, would not let Desai and her colleagues to come out of the airport and proceed to Sabarimala temple. They alleged that Desai and her team came here to violate the centuries-old custom of the temple that prevented entry of women and girls in the age group of 10 and 50. Talking to the media over the phone, Desai earlier said she would not go back without darshan at the Lord Ayyappa temple.

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#Watch: “Swamiye Ayyappa” chants echo outside Cochin airport as Trupti Desai waits inside

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The protestors who are conducting a sit-in protest outside the airport warned Trupti Desai that she can only enter the temple “over their bodies”. 

 

Cochin| The crowd of protesters outside the Cochin airport is swelling since the morning to oppose the activist Trupti Desai from entering Sabarimala. The protestors who are conducting a sit-in protest outside the airport warned Desai that she can only enter the temple “over their bodies”.

On the other hand, Trupti Desai vowed to not go back without the Darshan of Lord Ayyappa at the Sabarimala Temple. However, several Hindu organizations have indicated at statewide protests if she tries to enter the hill shrine.

Currently, Desai along with a group of women activists accompanying her is waiting at the Cochin airport. The stalment has continued since morning. The Kerala police tried to take her out safely through cargo area but it failed as the protesters caught a wind of the move.

Watch: Devotees chant “Swamiye Ayyappa” outside Cochin airport during the protest.

 

Watch: Activist Trupti Desai waits at the Cochin airport

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