EAM Jaishankar Pitches for Equity, Fairness in Use of Tech and Data

There have to be basic regulations and a sense of equity and fairness in the use of new technologies and data, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said on Friday. In a virtual panel discussion at the Sydney Dialogue, he said the new digital space and data world cannot be run on the “19th-century principle of capitalism” and that there is a need for effective norms to regulate them.

“If we are to do well, then it is important that democratic societies find the right balance because at the end of the day, democracy will advance when it is clear that democracy delivers,” Jaishankar said. “We cannot have a tech world, data world essentially run on the 19th-century principle of capitalism,” he added.

The Sydney Dialogue is a forum focussed on emerging, critical and cyber technologies. “Yes, on one hand, we need freedom, we need openness, we need the flows, but on the other hand, there have to be basic regulations, a sense of equity and a sense of fairness,” the external affairs minister said.

He said data pillaging cannot be a basis for global business. “You cannot have data pillaging as a basis for global business. There are countries that would obviously like to build their own business. There are people who want to have control over their own data. I think those also need to be factored in,” Jaishankar said.

Asked about his remark sometime ago about technology having a political dimension, he said it was made in a certain context. “It is political in the sense that it is used by players to advance goals,” the minister added. At the same time, he said technology has empowered people, which was inconceivable earlier.

Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne was also part of the discussion. Speaking at the Sydney Dialogue on Thursday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi called on democratic nations to ensure that cryptocurrency does not end up in the “wrong hands” and cautioned that new-age technologies have the potential to be used as instruments of conflict and domination.

He also said India has created a robust framework of data protection, uses data as a source of empowerment of people and has unmatched experience in doing this in a democratic framework with strong guarantees of individual rights.

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