Trai Chairman R S Sharma today expressed concern over non-interoperability of platforms, saying customers' inability to port out their data can pose a "real danger" as it allows firms to dictate terms.
He said while the rapidly-evolving digital world has brought immense advantages in form of new tools, technologies and systems, it has also thrown up new posers for governments and regulators across the world.
"There are a lot of challenges that are emerging with the digital world and governments and regulators in many countries are waking up to this new reality and grappling with how to regulate or make laws to deal with this new reality," Sharma said addressing a conference, 'Future of Digital Economy', organised by CUTS International.
Noting that telecom services space has the concept of number portability that allows consumers to port out if they so wish, Sharma said that no such system is in place when it comes to platforms.
"In telecom (services), the system is interoperable and interconnected. Platforms are not really interoperable. Many platforms don't provide necessary API to take away data. The result is, winner takes all," Sharma said.
This also allows a platform with the critical mass to grow faster subsuming other platforms, he pointed out.
"So this is a real danger that the power gets so much concentrated that sometimes these corporations are able to dictate terms," he said.
Platforms can, at best, be data custodians but should not be allowed to become owners of data with absolute rights, according to Sharma.
"It is not fair," he said.
Drawing a clear distinction between physical and digital world, Sharma said that shareability of data and involvement of multiple players made the virtual world very different.
"We are all grappling with how the new laws and new systems and regulations should be, to manage this digital world. Some aspects of it seem so attractive that one thinks why to regulate...Just let it grow. But I think the time is coming where you are going to face real issues," Sharma said.
He said questions such as who owns data in the digital world — the data creator or platforms — are becoming increasingly important issues to be addressed.
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