Only weeks after the visit by Ravi Shankar Prasad, Union Minister for Electronics and Information Technology, to the Google headquarters in Mountain View, California, Sundar Pichai has reportedly written a letter talking about his concerns on cross-border global data transfer. The new policies by India are a part of the recently-released draft on the Personal Data Protection Bill 2018, which has already drawn a mixed response from the industry.
According to a newswire, Pichai wrote a letter to Prasad on 5 September, entreating him for a free flow of data across borders. He also reportedly said that such a step will encourage global companies to contribute to India’s digital economy as well as benefit Indian startups that are looking at expanding globally.
On the other hand, some reports have also suggested that Google has agreed to follow the RBI’s local data storage norm for payment services but wants time until December to comply with.
A senior government official told a national financial newspaper, that Pichai also appreciated the Indian government’s efforts in creating a conducive business environment in the country for MNCs.
Since around 40 million new users come online in India every year, both from rural and urban areas, Google said that they have greatly transformed the Indian economy and culture — from the rise of local startups to the growing use of e-commerce, digital payments, ride sharing, and online videos, among others.
Prasad has been championing the use of AI and machine-to-machine communication in sectors like healthcare and education. During the visit to the Google Campus, he had met senior team members and was briefed about Google’s plans in India. They also talked about enabling access, Indic language computing, AI solutions for social good and capacity building of startups and SMEs.
At their annual flagship conference Google For India 2018 in August this year, the search engine giant announced the launch of Navlekha, a platform built to help Indian language publishers get their content on the internet. The company also announced that Google’s search feed will now display favourite news from both English and Hindi sources, using AI that learns which types of stories the users like best.
Google also made a slew of announcements tailor-made for India. Apart from crisis response and SOS alerts, Google also hinted that the company would use AI and machine learning to not only predict natural disasters but also address healthcare issues in India.