Opinion

Who Controls Your Data? India may Pass a Law Ensuring that You Do

By Vasant Dhar

Vasant Dhar

If we want control over data, the Indian model offers a path toward individual data empowerment for the Internet age.

On Aug. 24, 2017, India’s Supreme Court issued a landmark judgment declaring privacy to be a fundamental individual right. In response, a committee headed by a former Supreme Court justice drafted a data protection bill to be presented to parliament later this year. The measure introduces a new type of entity, a “data fiduciary,” which will ensure that data is used for designated purposes only. Just as a financial fiduciary is bound to act ethically in the best interest of the client, similarly, a data fiduciary — which will be one or more regulated entities — will ensure that the user has approved any transaction using his or her data, via an app.

That innovation may be useful elsewhere, given that data-driven artificial intelligence platforms are spreading across our lives, cutting across transportation, law enforcement, finance, defense and governance. The more we give machines access to our data — from our location to our social contacts — the better they get at making decisions, the more we trust them to do everything from reminding us of our flights to organizing our news feed, and the easier they make our lives.

But how much machines know about us will increasingly influence both individual privacy and how much people get involved in their democracies. For example, if a platform’s profit-maximizing algorithm cannot tell fake content from real or malicious players from normal ones, we should continue to expect its precision-targeting algorithms to be used to influence us, politically and otherwise.

Read the full article from The Washington Post.

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Vasant Dhar is a Professor of Information Systems.