India IT laws need to keep pace with shift to cloud

There is a need to for a new mindset because many of the existing laws are based on legacy policies from the British era, and India is lagging behind in APAC, according to EMC.

India's IT laws should be refreshed to be more relevant for a new landscape where cloud computing is becoming increasingly prelevant, according to Surajit Sen, Country Manager for data protection and Availability Division EMC at India and SAARC.

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There is a need to for a new mindset because many of the existing laws are based on legacy policies from the British era, Sen told Business Line in an interview. He pointed out India was lagging behind in framing IT laws compared to other countries in the Asia-Pacific.

"We have done a fair bit of work in last few years around building the policies and we do have some policies. But, in some areas, it is completely blank," said Sen. For instance, he noted companies are not told how long they have to retain personal data and information, which was not in line with best practices for industries such as banking where there are emerging standards like Know Your Customer (KYC) .

Another area which India lacks at the moment is enforcement, according to the EMC executive, in the report. "Elsewhere in the world, there are penalties that may levy on companies, which may run into billion of dollars at times. That is why companies have extra vigilant around compliance. Unfortunately for us, the penalties are not very well defined, well etched out or in some cases they are so low that people just don't care. Our regulators are not the best when it comes to checking whether they are compliant or not."

According to Sen, cloud adoption in India was low relative to region because laws were not explicit enough over the transfer of sensitive data such as financial records overseas. With many cloud service providers hosting their services outside India, the ambiguity and risk would turn away some local customers.

"If only the government could have the right regulations and policies around IT and cloud services, we will have massive surge and whether it makes sense for some companies to build their data centers in India that is a business decision," he told Business Line.

According to a forecast by Gartner, public cloud services in India hit US$434 million in 2013, clocking a growth rate of 37.5 percent, with software-as-a-service (SaaS) and infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) seeing strong growth.