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《纽约时报》:印度将出台严厉新规,加强监管国外科技公司

国际资讯监管与政策

《纽约时报》:印度将出台严厉新规,加强监管国外科技公司

目前,全球范围内越来越多的科技企业逐渐在把印度作为下一个市场增长高地。然后,在这样的一个背景下,日前,印度当局意欲出台严厉新规,加强对外国科技公司监管。

如今,来自美国的科技巨头主导着印度的互联网。Facebook旗下即时通讯应用WhatsApp是印度人手机上最流行的应用;几乎所有的智能手机都运行谷歌Android系统;YouTube是印度最受欢迎的视频平台,而亚马逊是印度第二大在线零售商。

一些印度政治领导人认为,“他们的国家在继1947年之前被英国统治了一个世纪之后,现在似乎将要又一次被殖民列强征服。”

于是,他们决心不让这种状况继续下去。

近日,来自印度执政的人民党(Bharatiya Janata Party)、负责制定科技政策的印度铁道部官员维尼特·戈恩卡(Vinit Goenka)在一次会议上表示:“作为一个国家,我们必须长大,就是说,我们无法再容忍这种状况继续下去了。”

近几个月来,印度政府的多家监管机构和多位部长宣布,他们打算对科技行业实施严厉的新规。总的来说,这些规定将结束美国科技巨头长期以来在这个国家享有的自由开拓业务的待遇。印度拥有近13亿人口,是全球互联网新用户增长最快的市场。

印度信息技术部长阿贾伊·萨哈尼(Ajay Sawhney,左)表示,印度政府在制定针对科技行业的严厉新规时持开放态度。

新德里律所TechLegis国际技术法专家萨尔曼·瓦里斯(Salman Waris)表示,印度正试图像欧洲那样,为本国公民提供强有力的数据保护措施;同时,让政府有权获得它认为合适的私人信息。外国科技公司别无选择,只能服从。

瓦里斯称:“每个人都要遵守规定,做必须要做的事情,这些公司在中国和欧洲必须这样做,那么它们在我们这里也要这样做。”

据了解,这些拟议中的措施包括向欧洲学习,对大型互联网公司处理用户个人数据的采取限制,要求科技公司只能在印度境内存储有关印度人的某些敏感数据,以及对外资电商公司以低价开拓市场的做法进行限制。

外媒评论称,印度政策上的这些变化,将对美国科技公司的实力和盈利进行最新的一次削弱,而且它们很可能会导致全球互联网的分裂。

值得一提的是,随着印度在互联网领域制定新的游戏规则,它正在从中国寻求灵感。尽管印度不想像中国走得那样远,但印度官员对中国政府对公民数据的严格控制,以及如何通过限制外国竞争培育了阿里巴巴和百度等本土互联网巨头表示赞赏。但是,与此同时,印度监管机构并不希望将美国互联网服务赶出去,因为印度有数亿人依赖这些服务。

对于谷歌、Facebook、亚马逊和其它美国科技公司来说,印度已经成为这些公司的下一个增长领域。然而,印度的这些举措将为一个富有吸引力的市场设置障碍。

目前印度官员和行业高管表示,新的限制肯定会出台。印度最高法院去年夏天宣布,印度人拥有基本的隐私权,并敦促国会通过一项数据隐私保护法。印度总理纳伦德拉·莫迪(Narendra Modi)和他的人民党采取了印度优先的经济民族主义,希望在明年大选前解决就业增长疲弱的问题。印度执法部门还要求获得更多法律工具,以从WhatsApp、Facebook和金融公司那里提取私人客户数据。

印度电信部长阿鲁纳·桑达拉扬(Aruna Sundararajan) 一直深入地参与了这些政策的讨论,他表示:“我们不想筑墙,但与此同时,我们明确地认识到数据是一项战略资产,并对这一观点表示赞赏。很多人都有一种强烈的感觉,认为印度之所以无法像中国一样打造出腾讯、百度或阿里巴巴,是因为我们的政策没有做到细致入微。”

在印度政府看来,数据对于人工智能等新一代技术至关重要。印度政府似乎特别下定决心要收服Facebook及其旗下WhatsApp。

今年,Facebook爆发了数据泄露丑闻,该公司与英国剑桥分析公司(Cambridge Analytica) 共享了8700万用户的私人信息,其中包括56万印度人,而英国剑桥分析公司一直寻求影响印度选举。在该丑闻曝光后,印度官员对此表示愤怒。

最近,印度电子和信息技术部要求WhatsApp开发一种追踪和阻止大规模信息传播的途径。此前,一系列关于儿童绑架者的虚假信息,导致20多名无辜的人被愤怒的暴徒杀害。

WhatsApp拒绝了这一要求,称开发这种技术将破坏让信息得以保密的加密机制。对此,印度政府暂停了WhatsApp在印度推出的一项新的支付服务,直至其遵守当地法律为止,这其中包括一项新规定:金融数据只能存储在印度境内。

印度政府表示,希望确保印度公司和外国公司在税收、数据存储、安全、定价以及与执法部门的合作等方面遵守同样的规则。

据彭博社报道称,美国大型科技公司正试图不公开地抵制或淡化印度的新监管措施。这些公司私下表示,这些措施将提高它们的运营成本,削弱它们利用印度数据改善服务的能力,并阻止新的投资,比如沃尔玛最近斥资160亿美元收购印度领先在线零售商Flipkart控股权的交易。

另外,针对印度政府的搜索和数据请求,印度提供的法律保护比美国少,因此存储在印度的私人数据可能更容易落入警方的手中。

所以,外媒认为,这个问题可能会成为美国和印度政府定于今年秋季举行的贸易和经济会议的一个话题。

美国-印度战略伙伴论坛(Strategic Partnership Forum)主席穆凯什·阿吉(Mukesh Aghi)则认为,印度仍需要跨国公司来帮助壮大其科技经济。“印度对外国科技公司实施严格的规定,可能会损害本国经济。例如,强迫数据存储在印度,可能会促使美国出台类似的规定,这将损害印度的大型外包公司。这个政策组织的董事会成员包括思科(Cisco)、Adobe和万事达(Mastercard)等公司的高管。”,

阿吉称:“这需要雄厚的财力,同时需要世界级的技术。这需要一个全球供应链。这些公司正在创造就业机会。”

据悉,现在印度信息技术部长阿贾伊·萨哈尼(Ajay Sawhney)正在协助起草相关规定。他表示,“我们的框架对所有利益相关者都是公平的。我们非常欣赏科技公司及其平台给我们国家带来的价值。”

In India, American companies dominate the internet. Facebook’s WhatsApp is the most popular app on phones. Virtually every smartphone runs on Google’s Android system. YouTube is the favorite video platform and Amazon is the No. 2 online retailer.

For some Indian political leaders, it is as if their nation — which was ruled by Britain for a century until 1947 — is being conquered by colonial powers all over again.

And they are determined to stop it.

“As a country, we have to all grow up and say that, you know, enough of this,” Vinit Goenka, a railways official who works on technology policy for India’s governing Bharatiya Janata Party, said at a conference last week.

In recent months, regulators and ministers across India’s government have declared their intention to impose tough new rules on the technology industry. Collectively, the regulations would end the free rein that American tech giants have long enjoyed in this country of 1.3 billion people, which is the world’s fastest-growing market for new internet users.

The proposals include European-style limits on what big internet companies can do with users’ personal data, a requirement that tech firms store certain sensitive data about Indians only within the country, and restrictions on the ability of foreign-owned e-commerce companies to undercut local businesses on price.

The policy changes unfolding in India would be the latest to crimp the power — and profits — of American tech companies, and they may well contribute to the fracturing of the global internet.

In May, Europe put into effect a sweeping new privacy law that gives Europeans more control over what information is being collected on them. In the United States, California just passed a privacy law that gives state residents more protections than Americans at large.

As India sets the new rules of the game, it is seeking inspiration from China. Although India does not want to go as far as China, which has cut off its internet from the global one, officials admire Beijing’s tight control over citizens’ data and how it has nurtured homegrown internet giants like Alibaba and Baidu by limiting foreign competition. At the same time, regulators do not want to push out the American internet services that hundreds of millions of Indians depend on.

For Google, Facebook, Amazon and others, India’s moves would curb a lucrative business avenue — especially after so many of them were blocked in China. India had become the companies’ next frontier for growth.

Salman Waris, an expert in international technology law at TechLegis in New Delhi, said India was trying to establish strong data protections for its citizens, as Europe did, while giving the government the right to obtain private information as it sees fit, much as China does. Foreign tech companies will have little choice but to go along.

“Everyone is going to fall in line and do what is necessary,” Mr. Waris said. “These companies have to do it in China and Europe, and they will do it here.”

India’s new policies are still a work in progress, with competing government agencies jousting with foreign and domestic lobbyists and policy advocates to shape them.

But new restrictions are definitely coming, said officials and industry executives involved in the process. The country’s Supreme Court declared last summer that Indians have a fundamental right to privacy and pushed Parliament to pass a data privacy law. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his B.J.P. party have embraced an India-first economic nationalism to address weak job growth ahead of elections next year. Law enforcement authorities are also demanding more legal tools to extract private customer data from WhatsApp, Facebook and financial firms.

“We don’t want to build walls, but at the same time, we explicitly recognize and appreciate that data is a strategic asset,” said Aruna Sundararajan, the nation’s secretary of telecommunications, who has been deeply involved in the policy discussions. “There is a strong feeling in many quarters that the reason that India has not been able to develop a Tencent or Baidu or Alibaba is because we have not been nuanced in our policies.”

The Indian government, which sees data as vital to a whole new generation of technologies such as artificial intelligence, appears particularly determined to reel in Facebook and its WhatsApp messaging service.

Officials were furious after the Cambridge Analytica scandal this year revealed that Facebook had shared private information on 87 million users, including 560,000 Indians, with a political consulting firm that had sought to influence Indian elections.

More recently, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology has demanded that WhatsApp create a way to track and stop mass messages, such as a series of false items about child kidnappers that led to the murder of two dozen innocent people by angry mobs.

WhatsApp has refused, saying that building such technology would break the encryption that keeps messages private. The government, for its part, is holding up a new Indian payments service from WhatsApp until it complies with local laws, including a new rule that requires financial data to be stored only in India.

More broadly, the Indian government says it wants to ensure that Indian and foreign companies have to follow the same rules on taxes, data storage, security, pricing and cooperation with law enforcement.

For example, Indian travel agencies complain that current tax laws allow foreign services such as Booking.com to avoid collecting hotel taxes, which can run as high as 28 percent of the room price. The disparity, they say, gives foreign firms a price advantage.

“It’s not about protectionism. It’s about saying if 10 laws apply to me, the 10 laws should also apply to someone else operating in India,” said Rameesh Kailasam, chief executive of IndiaTech.org, a newly formed lobbying group that represents local investors and start-ups, including MakeMyTrip and the ride-hailing company Ola.

In a statement, Booking.com said it made a “full effort” to comply with Indian tax laws.

The big American technology companies are trying to fend off or dilute the regulations behind closed doors. Many consider the topic so sensitive that they refused to discuss it on the record.

In private, the companies say that the proposals would raise their costs, dampen their ability to use Indian data to improve services and dissuade investments like Walmart’s recent $16 billion deal to buy control of Flipkart, the country’s leading online retailer.

They also warned that India has fewer legal protections than the United States against government searches and data requests, so private data stored in the country could more easily end up in the hands of the police.

The issue may become a topic in trade and economic discussions between the United States and Indian governments scheduled for the fall.

Mukesh Aghi, the chief executive of the U.S.-India Strategic Partnership Forum, a policy group whose board includes top executives at Cisco, Adobe, and Mastercard, said that India risked hurting its own economy by imposing stringent rules on foreign tech companies. Forcing data to be stored in India, for example, could prompt similar rules from the United States, which would hurt India’s big outsourcing companies.

India also needs multinational companies to build its tech economy, he said.

“It requires deep pockets. It requires world-class technologies. It requires a global supply chain,” Mr. Aghi said. “These companies are creating jobs.”

Ajay Sawhney, the information technology secretary, who is helping to draft the regulations, said the government was keeping an open mind as it developed the final rules.

“Our framework will be fair to all stakeholders,” he said. “We deeply appreciate the value that the tech companies and their platforms bring to our country.”


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