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'Clear, Cogent But...': What Meta's Top Exec Really Thinks of Indian Tech Policy

Nick Clegg gave his two cents on content moderation, encryption, and tech governance in India.

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Tech and Auto
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Video Editor: Purnendu Pritam

Senior Editor: Rohit Khanna

Nick Clegg, Meta’s point man for all things policy, was recently in India and had quite a few things to say.

Like? For starters, Clegg largely endorsed India’s new Digital Personal Data Protection Bill, 2022.

  • "I think the new DPDP bill is a clear, cogent piece of legislation. It has great clarity about what it's trying to achieve," the social media giant's president of Global Affairs said in conversation with Rudra Chaudhuri of Carnegie India.

Yes, but: Clegg also said that the draft legislation has "lots of twists and turns in terms of how you interpret it and apply it." "I think it remits a huge amount of details [in] execution," he added.

The 24-page bill is India’s fourth attempt at a data protection law. It has been broadly criticised for being intentionally vague, leaving out essential privacy safeguards, going slightly easy on companies that process user data, enabling government surveillance of citizens, and more.

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Why was he in town? Clegg was part of a session that took place on Day 2 of the Carnegie Global Technology Summit in New Delhi on 30 November 2022. 

  • A FICCI-NeGD-Meta fellowship that could help developers build open source applications for the metaverse was also launched in his presence.

Honest review: Once a prominent politician himself, Clegg came clean on his issue with another key legislation proposed by the Indian government – the draft Indian Telecommunications Bill, 2022.

  • "If you start regulating a messaging app as a telecoms network, you're just mixing apples and pears. You’re not applying regulation to the same thing," Clegg opined in an interview with Economic Times.

Clegg's two cents on giving law enforcement access to our encrypted DMs was:

"The moment you attach a fingerprint to a message, you have to attach a fingerprint to all messages, because otherwise you can't trace it later. The moment you do that, you no longer can provide that privacy that people expect of their intimate communications."
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Sir Nick’s job description: "Nick will now lead our company on all our policy matters, including how we interact with governments as they consider adopting new policies and regulations, as well as how we make the case publicly for our products and our work," Mark Zuckerberg had said when Clegg was appointed to the role earlier this year.

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