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India tells tech firms to protect user privacy, prevent abuse

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NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Technology firms must protect user privacy and prevent abuse of their platforms, India’s IT minister said on Thursday, speaking as the government draws up a data privacy law and seeks to push companies to store more data locally.

 

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Union IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad addresses a Google India event in New Delhi.

 

Federal Information and Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said he wanted Indians to have access to more technology platforms but said this should not undermine user privacy.

 

“I have only one caveat - it must be safe and secure, it must safeguard the privacy rights of the individual and you must make extra efforts that people don’t abuse the system,” Prasad told industry executives at a gathering organized by Alphabet Inc’s Google in New Delhi.

 

India’s 1.3 billion people and their massive consumption of mobile data has turned it into a key growth market for U.S. technology giants such as Google, Facebook and Amazon.

 

India has already forced foreign payment firms such as Mastercard Inc and Visa Inc to store data locally.

 

Technology firms have been concerned that the government’s drive to step up measures to boost local data storage will increase investment costs.

 

Google said at the event that it had launched a new job-search feature on its Google Pay platform, which is used by 67 million people in a month and competes with SoftBank-backed Paytm and Walmart Inc’s PhonePe.

 

Google also expanded its artificial intelligence-based voice assistant service to feature phones by partnering with one of India’s top telecom carriers in a country where more than 300 million use 2G devices.

 

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