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New Delhi : At the G20 Digital Economy Ministerial Meeting at Salta in the north-west of Argentina, G20 ministers and senior officials issued a declaration that reflects the G20’s commitment to promoting policies and actions that catalyse digital transformations. The Digital Economy Ministerial Meeting, held on August 23 & 24, 2018, was attended by 33 heads of delegation- Ministers, senior officials and representatives from invited countries and international organizations like EU, UNCTAD, ITU etc. India was represented by Union Minister for Electronics and IT & Law and Justice Ravi Shankar Prasad.

Building on the contributions of the G20 Digital Economy Task Force, delegates deliberated on efforts to create conditions that help governments, the private sector and civil society maximise the benefits and confront the challenges posed by technological progress. Other related issued such as Digital government, digital infrastructure and measuring the digital economy were also deliberated.

Addressing the Plenary of the G-20 Digital Economy Ministerial meeting, Prasad said that India’s digital story is a story of hope and growth; of opportunities and profits. But above all it is a story of digital inclusion and empowerment. Digital India is a mass movement today touching the lives of a billion people. He said that he was very assured to note that an important theme of the meeting was bridging the gender divide adding that gender empowerment was an important focus for the Government of India, according to a PIB release.

Highlighting the enormous scale of India’s digital infrastructure that include 1.21 billion mobile phones of which 450 million are smartphones, nearly 500 million internet subscriber and an ever increasing broadband availability being supported by optical fibre connectivity in 2,50,000 village clusters, Prasad said that the success of Digital India programme lay in the conscious efforts to bridge the digital divide and promote digital inclusion, based on technology which is low cost, affordable, developmental and which fosters empowerment and inclusion.

Prasad, in particular, highlighted the important role played by India’s home grown technologies for promoting digital payment. All this is in addition to the stellar role played by India’s IT companies, which have left their mark in 200 cities of 80 countries, enabling India to emerge as a profound digital power, with India’s digital economy likely to become 1 trillion $ economy in the next 3-5 years, he added.

Prasad articulated India’s concerns about data protection and individual privacy and informed the meeting that India had already put in place stringent measures backed by laws passed by parliament. He said that privacy can’t prohibit innovation nor can privacy become the shield for the corrupt or terrorists. We need data to improve business but the data must be anonymous, objective, and taken with consent, he added.

He said that India had taken a serious note of reported misuse of social media platform data. Such platforms will never be allowed to abuse our election process for extraneous means, he added. He said that the purity of the democratic process should never be compromised and that India will take all required steps to deter and punish those who seek to vitiate this process.

India’s views received wide appreciation and support from several delegations including the hosts Argentina, Germany and the EU. Several other countries like Saudi Arabia, Russia, Indonesia and Japan expressed a keen desire to work with India in IT and cyber related fields.

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