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An Entity, Not a Commodity

  • Published
    28th Sep, 2023


India's Digital Personal Data Protection Act 2023 can address data ethics, commodification, and regulation challenges in the digital age.

Digital Personal Data Protection Act 2023

  • Data as a Neutral Commodity: The prevalence of data-centric discussions sustains the mystique of computational networks as reliable decision-makers.
  • Alignment with Global Regulations: India's Digital Personal Data Protection (DPDP) Act 2023 aligns with global data protection regulations seen in the EU, UK, and China.
  • Data Protection and Privacy: DPDP Act 2023 emphasizes the importance of data protection, privacy, and the right to be forgotten, holding entities accountable for transparent and ethical data practices.

Ethical Concerns and Economic Value of Data

  • Ethics of Data Generation: Digital data not only describe actions but also define individuals and predict their future behaviours.
  • Data as a Commodity: Excessive emphasis on the economic value of data perpetuates the idea that all data can be commodified and harvested.
  • This approach disregards the embodied nature of data, rooted in personal experiences and practices.
  • Data Circulation and Consent: While data can travel, regulations must consider whether data can be alienated from the subject, creating digital and temporal distance that eliminates the need for consent.
  • Legal scholars argue for data's inalienable nature, urging a reevaluation of how far data can travel without losing its origin and consent.

Step towards Data Equity

  • Historic Landmark in India: The DPDP Act 2023 aims to establish data equity and justice, particularly for vulnerable individuals.
  • Operational Realities: Operationalization should focus on ethics in data generation, redefining data as an embodied resource, and regulating data circulation to protect consent and provenance.
  • Three Data Principles: To fulfill its aspirations, the DPDP Act must challenge and critique the three de facto principles of digital data: neutrality, commodification, and limitless circulation.
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