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IBM CEO advices India to differentiate rules that govern business and consumer data

IBM CEO Ginni Rometty in an interview has commented that India must differentiate between rules that govern privacy of consumer data and that of data generated by business users while drawing up new regulations for a digital economy.


Last month the newly drafted ecommerce policy empowered consumers to have control over the data they generate and own, while also recommending that all data should be stored locally. Ginni Rometty’s comments have come at a time when India is taking several measures to protect citizen’s data, including creating policies that mandate storage of Indian users’ data within the country.


The 61-year old lady emphasized on the need for free flow of data across borders. She said that there should be no “unintended consequences” that hurt economic growth as India seeks to police its burgeoning internet economy and advised to be careful to not conflate consumer data issues with business-to-business data issues. "Because of the mishandling of consumer data by a very small number of companies, it is clearly a heightened issue on everyone’s mind and we need to have a set of regulations - voluntary or otherwise -around consumer privacy," she said.

The Reserve Bank of India has mandated that all data related to financial transactions of banks and payment companies must be stored and processed locally.

According to Rometty, legislators globally are responding to consumer concerns over privacy and many don’t understand the difference between business and consumer data. She suggested educating them before some of these laws create the unintended consequence of destroying digital economy.

Data flow across borders is important to sustain (India’s) exports industry, according to Rometty, who pointed to India’s claim to fame as a destination for work from other countries.

Rometty commented that her business model won’t compete with others and that IBM is an enterprise company that differs from consumer companies like Facebook and Google.

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