Telecom regulator TRAI on Monday said each user owned his or her data collected by or stored with the entities in the digital ecosystem that includes devices and applications.

The entities, it stressed, are mere custodians of the data, while pointing out that the existing framework for protecting the personal data of telecom users is not sufficient.

‘Right to be forgotten’

In its recommendations on ‘privacy, security and ownership of the data in the telecom sector’, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India has said the right to choice, consent, data portability, and the right to be forgotten ought to be given to consumers.

Additionally, the regulator has suggested that all entities in the digital ecosystem that control or process users’ personal data such as devices, operating systems, browsers as well as applications, be brought under a data protection framework.

“Till such time a general data protection law is notified by the government, the existing rules/licence conditions applicable to TSPs for protection of users’ privacy be made applicable to all the entities in the digital ecosystem,” it suggested.

The government has formed a committee, headed by former Supreme Court judge B.N. Srikrishna, under the Ministry and Electronics and IT, which is working on the country’s first data protection framework.

While proposing that a study be undertaken to formulate the standards for anonymisation, or de-identification, of personal data generated and collected in the digital ecosystem, TRAI also said entities should be restrained from using meta-data to identify individual users.

‘No pre-ticked boxes’

Along with running consumer awareness programmes, the regulator has suggested that multilingual, easy to understand, short templates of agreements or terms and conditions be made mandatory. It has also recommended prohibiting use of “preticked boxes” to gain users’ consent.

TRAI suggested that device manufacturers incorporate provisions so that users can delete pre-installed applications if they so decide.

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