A new tech report by Observer Research Foundation (ORF) stated that a majority of urban youth want a say in how their data is shared and used by the government and social media intermediaries, and support the right to be forgotten through a mandatory erasure.
Also, India’s youth want data localisation and feel foreign enterprises should store and process data within data centres in India. They believe that the government must promote domestic tech and enterprises, ORF said.
‘Swiping Right on Tech Policy: An Assessment of Young India’s Aspirations’ is ORF’s inaugural technology policy survey, which attempts to assess the Indian youth’s understanding of the role of technology in their lives.
“By 2025, the number of internet users in India is expected to reach 900 million. The majority of internet users in India, at present, are between the ages of 20 and 29. How they engage with technology will be key in shaping domestic policy discussions,” ORF said in a statement.
The report, based on a survey of urban youth, was conducted to meet three objectives: Measure young India’s awareness of issues pertaining to technology policy, identify their concerns, and gauge their opinions on future policy options in this space, it said.
“India’s youth have a strong interest in safeguarding their individual privacy. 88 percent believe that they should be able to determine how their data is shared and used by the government and social media intermediaries,” it said.
Almost 80 percent of them support the right to be forgotten through the mandatory erasure, on a user’s request, of their personal data collected by private companies.
They also want data localisation — 70 percent feel that foreign enterprises should store and process data within data centres in India. They believe that the government must promote domestic tech and enterprises.
Over 80 percent support policies that would enable and protect India’s domestic technology industry.
While the youth have a strong interest in safeguarding their individual privacy, they showed extensive support towards sharing personal data to support government schemes and public welfare mechanisms, such as providing rations or cash to the poor, reducing road accidents, and maintaining robust healthcare services.
“The study found India’s youth to be highly responsive towards government policies that could make the domestic technology industry more competitive and promote manufacturing capabilities within the country. Over 80 percent of the youth surveyed supported the proposal of technology protectionist measures,” ORF said.
Over 85 percent of the respondents support government investments in mobile towers, uninterrupted supply of critical mineral resources, development of indigenous computer or mobile chips, open data regimes for enabling AI innovation, and development of indigenous social media platform alternatives or encrypted messaging platforms.
The government, young India suggests, must address the need for data literacy and cyber hygiene programmes, utilising greater involvement from different stakeholders and providing greater attention to women, unemployed youth and other marginalised sections of society.
India must also continue to engage in bilateral and multilateral partnerships that help mitigate the risks posed by higher-tech innovations, such as artificial intelligence (AI). These collaborations must also develop safeguards against threats of foreign interference in domestic elections, and targeted campaigns on critical public infrastructure.
“The report found today’s Indian youth to be largely positive towards tech and assertive in their digital boundaries. Their proactivity towards safeguarding values of individual privacy is bolstered by the understanding and willingness to support national interests and security, share their data if required to aid economic well-being and public governance,” the statement added.