New data bill draft almost ready, says minister; tech firms’ 5G wait grows longer

On Wednesday, the government withdrew the Data Protection Bill, 2019 from Parliament, with IT minister Ashwini Vaishnaw saying it would present a new draft. Vaishnaw later told us in an interview that the draft of a new bill was almost ready and the government would put it out for consultation and and approvals soon.

Also in this letter:
■ Tech firms will have to wait longer for direct 5G spectrum allotment
■ Swiggy staffers can now work for others under new policy
■ Where to register for the ET Soonicorns Summit


New data bill draft almost ready, says IT minister

The draft of a new data protection bill is almost ready, and the government will release it for public consultation soon, Union IT minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said. The Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019, had to be withdrawn as there were 81 suggestions for amendments, Vaishnaw told us in an interview.

Catch-up quick: The government on Wednesday withdrew the data protection bill, which had been under consideration for several years. Vaishnaw said the government had received 12 recommendations and 81 amendments from a Joint Committee of Parliament that studied the bill. It would now work on a “comprehensive legal framework” and present a new bill, he added.

Later, in an interview with ET, the minister said the new bill would uphold the core principles of Right to Privacy, adding that the IT Act, 2000 was also being revamped.

Here are some edited excerpts from the interview:

Why was the bill withdrawn?

The bill was referred to a Joint Committee of Parliament, which conducted a comprehensive review of the entire bill and met many stakeholders. The JCP recommended 81 amendments in a Bill of 99 sections. They also made 12 suggestions. So, considering all of those, we had to come up with a new bill.

What changes are expected in the new bill?

The core principles remain the same. There is absolutely no change in that. It is more of accommodating everything that has been recommended and making sure that the bill is neatly drafted. We will share it for public consultation very soon. The core principles of right to privacy, which have been enshrined by the Supreme Court’s judgment, will remain.

Govt not ready, says bill’s original architect: Meanwhile, Justice BN Srikrishna, who led the committee that drafted the original personal data protection bill, told us he agreed with the criticisms against it. “I have given feedback, too. I have pointed out a whole number of flaws in the bill. Apparently, they are rethinking these points,” he said.

“The bottom line is that they are not in a position to pass a law to deal with the protection of personal data of citizens of India.”


Tech firms will have to wait longer for direct 5G spectrum allotment

5G

The government is evaluating the finer details of directly allocating 5G spectrum to enterprises and will take a decision only after seeking clarity from experts on its legal and capacity aspects, a senior official told us.

What this means: Technology companies, which had planned to use the allocated 5G spectrum to develop an in-house non-public network (NPN), may have to wait longer than expected to roll it out.

Why the delay? “Direct assignment is very complex because we must see the legality and demand in India. Even globally, a very small and niche area is set aside for NPNs,” another senior government official said.

“Our understanding is that the total number of NPNs across the world is in the low thousands. So, that trend is likely to continue in India as well.”

Officials said enterprises that want to set up an NPN soon can do so by leasing spectrum from a telecom service provider, an option available to companies earlier as well.

“It is like a storm is a teacup. Too much is being made of it. Application, ecosystem or demand-wise, there is very little to justify the high costs that may be associated with NPNs,” said a government official, who did not wish to be named.

Champing at the bit: We reported previously that L&T Technology Services was keen to obtain 5G spectrum to build use cases and deploy 5G solutions globally for parent company Larsen & Toubro.

In June, TCS chief operating officer N Ganapathy Subramaniam told us private networks would help Indian organizations accelerate their digital agenda.

Tech Mahindra chief executive CP Gurnani told us recently that tech firms should be allotted “free spectrum” to set up private 5G networks, saying it would increase self-reliance and make the industry more competitive in the global arena.


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Swiggy staffers can now work for others under new moonlighting policy

swiggy

Swiggy on Wednesday announced an industry-first moonlighting policy, under which employees can take up external projects based on internal approvals.

Swiggy’s initiative comes as companies face high attrition and demand for more flexibility from employees.

“This could encompass activity outside of office hours or on weekends that does not impact their productivity on the full-time job or have a conflict of interest with Swiggy’s business in any way,” the company said.

Yes, goal: Few other companies are likely to give their seal of approval to moonlighting as a formalized policy, according to recruitment and HR experts, and companies.

While such a policy does provide more freedom and opportunity to hone skills, and a potential additional revenue source, there will be significant challenges in monitoring such side hustles.


ET Soonicorns Summit to celebrate and unlock potential of future unicorns

Sounicorns

The Indian startup ecosystem – home to more than 66,000 DPIIT-recognized startups, with over 100 unicorns, or startups with a valuation of over $1 billion – is expected to power India’s ‘techade’ and play a significant role in boosting the country’s share and innovation progress in the global digital economy.

To unlock the potential of India’s future unicorns and celebrate the journey of these startups that are poised to play a pivotal role in shaping the new India growth story, the EconomicTimes.com is launching the ET Sounicorns Summit, powered by Amazon Web Services (AWS) .

Unlocking the full potential of this league of future unicorns will enable these soonicorns to deliver large-scale impact, as they build and solve for not just 1.4 billion Indians, but for the world, too.

As India’s first-ever startup initiative that is focused on celebrating India’s future unicorns and decacorns, the ET Soonicorns Summit will provide a platform for the most-respected names in the startup ecosystem as well as key stakeholders, including policymakers, tech majors, investors, and corporates, to come together for high-impact deliberations and collaborations aimed at unleashing the next billion-dollar startup opportunities from India.

Register to watch the premiere event of the ET Soonicorns Summit on August 4 from 11:30 am onwards.

For a preview, watch this video.

TWEET OF THE DAY


ETtech Done Deals

fund

■ Embedded credit finance startup Credit Fair raised $10 million in funding – a mix of debt and equity – led by LC Nueva Alternative Investment Fund. The round also saw participation from venture capital fund Capital A and angel investors. Credit Fair plans to use the funds to augment its technology and launch new wealth-tech products.

■ Finance operations automation platform Bluecopa has raised $2.3 million in funding led by Blume Ventures. Launched in 2021 by Raghavendra Reddy, Satyaprakash Buddhavarapu and Nilotpal Chanda, Bluecopa will use the funds for hiring and to increase its customer base.

■ Employee benefits startup Jify said it has raised $10 million in funding from Accel and Nexus Venture Partners. The startup will use the funds to strengthen its fintech product offering, ramp up customer acquisition and drive adoption among the workforce.

■ ICICIdirect said it has acquired Multipie, a networking platform for investors to discuss and exchange ideas on stocks and other investment assets. The transaction involves the acquisition of Multipie App, its technology, brand, domain name, and user base, among other things. ICICIdirect did not disclose the size of the deal.


BharatPe ropes in SBI Card’s Negi as CFO

BharatPe

Fintech startup BharatPe has appointed Nalin Negi, the former chief financial officer of credit cards issuer SBI Card, as its CFO.

Negi will spearhead the finance function for New-Delhi based BharatPe and will help make it Ebitda-positive by March 2023, the company said in a statement on Wednesday.

Ebitda stands for earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization.

Negi will also lead financial readiness for the company as it prepares for an initial public offering.

We were the first to report on April 1 that BharatPe’s top management wanted to take the company public in the next 18-24 months.

The appointment comes a day after we reported that BharatPe cofounder Bhavik Koladiya, who became a consultant during its early days, is moving on from the firm.


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