Public Administration Mains 2020 : Model Question and Answer - 116

(Public Administration Paper II / Chapter: Significant Issues in Indian Administration)

Current Question : The unregulated use of private datasets in governance has made more visible, or are being invisiblised, through the use of this data. Discuss (15 Marks/250 words)

Model Answer :

The unregulated use of private datasets in governance also has consequences for the people and communities who are being made more visible, or are being invisiblised, through the use of this data. While the government has historically relied on qualitative methods like the census for understanding populations and their needs, the shift to quantitative methods and “big data” relies upon private datasets, which were created and used in a completely different context and for different purposes.

Inevitably, such data will be incomplete for the purpose of governance, and replete with the biases of the private entity creating and analysing the data. In the absence of regulation which carefully considers its limitations, using such data to target beneficiaries or for economic planning can have hazardous consequences — including arbitrary denial or exclusion from critical government services; or through biased and discriminatory planning which replicates biased data and risks undermining important legal principles such as the right to equality before the law.

The regulation of non-personal data must take into account both the potential harms to individual privacy as well as the wider social and political consequences of such “datafication” of government.

This is ostensibly why an expert committee was established to look specifically into the governance of non-personal data, even while the PDP Bill was expected to limit its scope to personal data of individuals. Instead of jeapordising both these goals and putting the cart before the horse, as the PDP Bill has done, the Gopalakrishnan committee must be allowed to deliberate and inform a public consensus on the appropriate models of governance of non-personal data. (Total Words- 264)

(Linkages : Private Datasets and Governance, Private Data and Regulation, Non- Personal Data and Gopala krishnan Committee )

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