‘Developing global framework can help build trust in tech’

Facebook India VP favours India taking lead in the move

Facebook India’s vice president and managing director Ajit Mohan on Friday pitched for developing a global framework, with India taking the lead, to help build and sustain people’s trust in technology. He, however, added that the move towards rules and regulations should be in a way not to stifle innovation.

“The very fact that the Internet means that you’re connecting people from around the world, means that as we think about the governance framework…it will be helpful if India takes the leadership role,” Mr. Mohan said.

He was speaking at the Nasscom Technology and Leadership Forum 2021. He added that governments had an important role to play in regulation. “There are many issues on which the trade offs are so complex, you don’t want an individual company or a set of companies to be taking choices. It is for the society at large, represented by government regulation, to say when we have a trade off between, let’s say free expression and safety, here is the framework.”

Kris Gopalakrishnana, chairman, Axilor Ventures and co-founder of Infosys, said the trust in technology is more important than ever, especially for the disadvantaged sections of society. “Digital Divide has widened, and lots of people have not been able to work or earn a living because of lack of access… We need a framework for the ecosystem to look at how we increase trust in technology.”

He added that this framework must include balance between profits and public good; ensure that privacy and security are comprehensively addressed; focus on transparency, accountability, governance; and a redressal process.

Mr. Mohan added that to increase trust, the private sector can work on how to give users control —more control over their interactions, their connectedness to technology and the Internet as well as transparency. The more companies are transparent about what exactly they are doing, what is the framework, it enables companies to build trust and also the ecosystem to build trust, he said.

Roopa Kudva, partner and MD, Omidyar Network India, said that trust was really the backbone of digital economy. When individuals trust the Internet, they would participate more freely, she added. “Building trust amongst the next half billion — who will come from the bottom 60% of India’s income distribution, needs to be a priority. Tech-led models can play a vital role in improving their lives by providing them access to basic services like healthcare, education, financial services, job platforms and the like.”

She pointed out that it is also very crucial to protect this segment from fraud and loss of data, because such incidents can materially set them back and undo any progress that they might have made in their digital journey.

The Infosys co-founder also pointed out that technology itself is neither good nor bad. “It’s how we deploy technology, create products or services that matter… Sometimes, the unintended consequences from the use of technology have to be factored in. It is the responsibility of the producers of technology to eliminate or reduce harms from technology.”

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