The United States and India still have a lot of work to do in digital cooperation | Business and Economic News

The United States and India still have a lot of work to do in digital cooperation | Business and Economic News



New Delhi, India– This is an ongoing drama worthy of a Bollywood movie.

In February of this year, Twitter deleted hundreds of accounts. These accounts were posted in ongoing farmers’ protests against the three agricultural laws passed in India last year, but some of them were restored after massive public opposition.

Twitter stated that these accounts have been closed to comply with the order of the Indian government. But this is only the beginning of tensions between the US social media giants and the Indian government this year.

The authorities in New Delhi passed new rules requiring social media platforms to disclose the identity of the person posting content-which has caused protests from technology companies and freedom of speech activists.

The Indian police visited Twitter’s office in May because it failed to comply with the request to remove the “manipulated media” label, which was posted on a tweet belonging to the country’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) politician . In late June, the head of Twitter in India was complained by the police for the Indian map showing the politically sensitive area of ??Kashmir as a separate country, and a far-right group filed a complaint with the police on June 30, accusing Twitter of promoting child pornography On its platform.

Several U.S. tech giants find themselves in the crosshairs with Indian officials [File: Anindito Mukherjee/Bloomberg]

It’s not just Twitter that is in the crosshairs. Facebook and Amazon also found themselves in conflict with the government of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi – the conflict highlighted that a lack of formal cooperation would lead to a complete derailment between the U.S. tech giants and the Indian government – this It may be detrimental to both parties.

According to the latest government data, India has 1.1 billion mobile phone users and approximately 757 million Internet users, most of whom use mobile phones to access the Internet. According to data from the digital marketing company Dentsu India, given that India’s growing digital advertising market is expected to increase from US$2.2 billion last year to US$3.2 billion by the end of 2022, the potential customer base is even more attractive.

Although the Indian digital ecosystem is still in its early stages, it “is one of the most important markets there,” said Anand Raghuraman, vice president of strategic consulting firm Asia Group. “Leading technology companies recognize this, and this is why they continue to make large-scale investments in India, and we don’t think this situation will change in the short term,” he said.

With such a huge opportunity, it is easy to see that social media giants such as Twitter and Facebook, and streaming platforms Amazon and Netflix are willing to dance with at least some digital commands in New Delhi. But global technology companies have also learned from experience that India’s technology policy landscape is prone to frequent changes and is affected by complex regulatory structures, Ragulaman warned.

“The real question is what will rise faster — India’s digital economy or policy barriers restricting access to it,” he said, adding that the two countries need to engage in “digital dialogue” and “honest dialogue” to solve problems and Take their relationship to the next level.

Ragulaman said that by helping New Delhi check the influence of neighboring China at home and abroad, including its influence in the digital field, India will also benefit from a more friendly relationship with American technology giants. It also anchors American technology companies and their strong financial resources in India to help create jobs and promote innovation.

Build trust and cut red tape

Experts hope that the Biden administration will establish mutual trust with India at the regulatory level [File: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg]

Establishing mutual trust at the regulatory level between the United States and India is essential for American companies to gain a place in the Indian digital market without worrying about being weakened by Indian domestic companies that intervene in providing imitation services.

It is hoped that the renewed enthusiasm for multilateral agreements under the leadership of US President Joe Biden will open the door to deeper digital cooperation between Washington and New Delhi, as there are many obstacles to smooth the relationship.

For example, whenever Indian authorities want information from US technology companies, they must pass the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty in Criminal Matters (MLAT) to deal with red tape.

This means that if the Indian police submits a request for information to an American technology company, it must first clear the state’s headquarters. From there, it was sent to the Indian Ministry of Interior, which then sent it to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which then forwarded it to the Indian Embassy in Washington, DC. From there it was sent to the FBI’s Office of International Affairs, where a judge weighed the request. Assuming that the judge authorizes the sharing of information, it will return to its original path.

Udbhav Tiwari, a public policy consultant at Mozilla in India, said: “The average MLAT requirement takes 18 months to three years to be complied with.” “You need a complete office to handle a large number of requests from India because there are so many users. “

Tiwari said that one thing that makes it easier for foreign technology companies to operate in India is that if New Delhi overcomes some obstacles and obtains certification under the Clarification of the Legal Use of Overseas Data (CLOUD) Act (CLOUD), this is a U.S. According to the law, the United States is obliged to provide user-stored data on any server owned and operated by the United States in response to the authorization request of another government.

Despise big technology

There is a lot of discussion in Washington about the great power of inspections—even early inspections—of Google, Facebook, Amazon, Apple, and other companies. Some U.S. lawmakers hope to break the technology giants and repeal an Internet-related legislation—Section 230 of the U.S. Communications Regulation Act—protecting platforms from legal liability for content posted by users on their platforms.

These efforts gained momentum during the administration of former U.S. President Donald Trump, have continued during Biden’s administration, and may be on social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook and their content review policies” Complaints affecting the Indian government”, Salman Waris, partner of TechLegis Advocates & Solicitors, told Al Jazeera.

“The Biden administration’s contempt for large technology companies will encourage the Indian government to take a more radical stance against some of these participants, and will further promote the entire plan to promote the development of local Indian companies and’self-reliant India’ rhetoric,” he said.

In the days after the Twitter incident in February, the logo of the local Indian short messaging app Koo was a yellow bird, and downloads surged after government officials turned to it.

Similarly, after New Delhi banned China’s ByteDance’s short video app TikTok last summer due to tensions with its eastern neighbors, a large number of domestic imitators emerged overnight, all pushing their Indian roots.

Both Facebook and Google hold shares in Reliance Industries’ Jio platform [File: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg]

Independent analyst Rajiv Sharma told Al Jazeera that if the U.S. government finally hits any major U.S. technology company and its business model hard, it will have a global impact.

In India, both Facebook and Google can feel this. Last year, both Facebook and Google bought shares in the technology and telecommunications business Jio Platforms of Reliance Industries led by India’s richest man Mukesh Ambani at a high price. .

Sharma said: “If something damages the capabilities of Google and Facebook, the excitement surrounding the three coming together may be undermined.”

Cooperation space

One area where India can provide some digital courses to the United States is net neutrality, which is the principle that Internet service providers must treat all content equally and must not discriminate or charge different prices.

Mozilla’s Tiwari suggested that “India has some of the strongest net neutrality rules” and the Indian Telecommunications Regulatory Authority can share information and knowledge with its US counterpart, the Federal Communications Commission.

The two can also cooperate in cyber security. The Biden administration has the ability to build on the framework of US-India cyber relations signed by former US President Barack Obama.

Deepak Maheshwari, an independent public policy adviser, said: “Now is a good time for both parties to review the agreement to see what progress has been made and what needs to be done next.”

Next-generation 6G telecommunications infrastructure may also become an area of ??concern for the governments of the two countries.

India, the United States and a few other countries have already issued security warnings about allowing Chinese giants such as Huawei Technologies and ZTE to build next-generation telecommunications networks.

A government statement in early May showed that some Indian telecom operators avoided cooperating with Chinese telecom giants in the upcoming 5G trial operation, but chose to cooperate with European and South Korean operators.

“Geopolitics will be at the core of all this,” said Ragulaman of the Asian Group. “This will be a strategy game.”

At least the tax issue may become less of a headache. India was one of the first countries to impose an “equalization tax” — a tax on some of the advertising sales revenue of large technology companies in India — and this year it was expanded to include advertising sales from e-commerce platforms.

But the global patchwork of digital service taxes may become history. In the major victory of the Biden administration last week, 130 countries, including India, supported the blueprint of adopting a minimum tax rate of at least 15% for global companies and required large technology companies to pay taxes in the countries where their goods and services are located. sell.


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