USIBC Head Meets IT Minister; Discusses Data Protection, Visa Issues

New Delhi, Nov 12 (PTI) US-India Business Council President Nisha Biswal Monday met IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad to discuss various issues ranging from proposed data protection law to visas.

The meeting comes at a time when changes are being proposed by the US administration around definition of specialty occupations under the H-1B visas, which would potentially raise costs for IT services companies.

Sources in the IT ministry said that the visa issue figured prominently during the meeting that lasted for over 30 minutes. The minister is said to have emphasised the value addition being done by Indian IT companies in making US firms more competitive.

Sources said that the Minister also highlighted the benefits that accrue to American companies in using the services of Indian IT firms, which are, in turn, making significant investments and creating jobs in the US.

The discussions also touched upon promoting business-to-business links and issues around data privacy, sources said. The Minister is learnt to have underlined the increasing significance of data sovereignty, and how certain sensitive data concerning individuals needs to be accorded sanctity.

India is taking firm measures to safeguard personal information and has drafted data protection bill that proposes "explicit consent" for processing 'sensitive personal information', defines obligations of data processors and rights of individuals.

Prasad is also said to have discussed the Digital India initiative, and the opportunities it presents for companies. The Minister is said to have pointed out the importance of co-operation between democratic nations, particularly the US and India, to address the challenges and opportunities presented by the digital world.

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