Dec 2020

Panel Discussion on ‘Data Trusts for the Public Good’

Thursday, 17 Dec 2020, 11:00 am-Thursday, 17 Dec 2020, 1:00 pm


Data lies at the heart of the modern information society. As we digitize our world –building smart cities and smart homes, creating online marketplaces and digitizing public service delivery – a wealth of information is generated through various community stakeholders interacting with each other. In the process of collecting, using and monetizing this information, are these benefits flowing to the individuals and communities that help create it?

A Position Paper on Data Trusts

Data Stewardship for Non-Personal Data in India: A Position Paper on Data Trusts, is a paper by the Centre for Applied Law and Technology Research (ALTR) at the Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy, in collaboration with Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas, IIIT Delhi and Omidyar Network India (ONI).

It evaluates how a ‘data commons’ can be structured and set up to enable trusted and accountable sharing of non-personal data. For this, it identifies ‘data trusts’ as an optimal solution for safeguarding community interests in non-personal data. It further assesses the challenges towards operationalizing them within the current legal framework in India. The assessment reveals that the current legal framework is inadequate in guaranteeing the efficacy of a data trust established to protect the community’s interest in the non-personal data stewarded by it. The paper, thus, highlights the need for a bespoke law to recognise and guide the establishment of data trusts in India, and to provide independent oversight and registration frameworks.

A Pilot Data Trust for Urban Mobility Data

Based on the research presented in the position paper, ALTR, in collaboration with IIIT Delhi and ONI, will evaluate these recommendations and identify more granular insights for a legal and policy framework for data trusts in India. To this end, a Data Trust for Urban Mobility Data is currently being piloted with the aim of providing wider, and secure, access to scheduling, real time locations and ticketing data, to improve public information on urban transport and improve commuter experiences. The Pilot is expected to combine a technological platform with an institutional framework to manage the data sets. The event will thus feature a demonstration of the platform to illustrate the pilot’s essential features.

Issues for Discussion

Against this background, a panel discussion is expected to discuss views on the following issues:

  1. How can we achieve a balance between the interests of the community, the data users, and data collecting entities through a ‘commons’-based data sharing institution, and particularly through data trusts?
  2. What are the challenges associated with data trusts in effectively securing the community interest? How can these be addressed?
  3. In the absence of a bespoke legal framework for data trusts, how can we structure the pilot data trust to ensure the appropriate institutional safeguards for community-based data sharing of urban mobility data?
  4. Which legal and policy solutions can be contemplated to ensure the long-term sustainability of data trusts for public and privately held non personal data?

The Speakers

Mr Ajay Prakash Sawhney, Secretary, Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) will deliver the Keynote Address.
The panel discussion will feature:

CV Madhukar, Investment Partner, Omidyar Network India
Richa Roy, Partner, Policy, Insolvency and Restructuring, Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas 
Rahul Matthan, Partner, Trilegal
Tatiana Peralta Quiros, Transport Economist, World Bank & Co-Founder, Kinto Costa Rica
Astha Kapoor, Co-Founder, Aapti Institute
Trishi Jindal, Project Fellow, Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy
Ameen Jauhar, Team Lead, ALTR & Senior Resident Fellow, Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy will moderate the discussion.

Schedule of the events

  1. Prefatory remarks: 11:00 am -11:05 am
  2. Keynote Address: 11:05 am – 11:25 am – To be delivered by Mr Ajay Sawhney, Secretary, MeitY
  3. Demonstration of the Pilot Data Trust Platform by IIIT Delhi: 11:30 pm – 11:50 am.
  4. Panel Discussion: 11:50 am – 12:45 pm.
  5. Q & A: 12:45 pm – 12:55 pm
  6. Closing Remarks: 12:55 pm – 1 pm