Facebook VP Counters Mukesh Ambani, Says Data Is Not The New Oil
Nick Clegg, vice president of global affairs and communications of Facebook Inc. (Photographer: Marlene Awaad/Bloomberg)

Facebook VP Counters Mukesh Ambani, Says Data Is Not The New Oil

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Countering Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd.’s promoter Mukesh Ambani, Facebook Inc. on Thursday said data is not the new oil, and countries like India should allow free flow of data across borders instead of attempting to hoard it as a finite commodity.

Facebook Vice President (Global Affairs and Communications) Nick Clegg said data sharing is crucial for national security as India right now finds itself "locked out" of major global data-sharing initiatives aimed to clamp down on serious crime and terrorism.

India should create a new template for the internet that "respects the rights of individuals to choose what happens to their data, one that encourages competition and innovation, and one that remains open and accessible for everyone," he said.

Ambani, India’s richest man, had in the past said that "data is the new oil" even as he batted for protecting data generated by Indians. India’s data must be controlled and owned by Indians and not by corporates, especially global corporations, he has said.

"There are many in India and around the world who think of data as the new oil and, that, like oil, having a great reserve of it held within national boundaries, will lead to surefire prosperity. But this analogy is mistaken," Clegg said at an event in New Delhi.

"Data isn't oil—a finite commodity to be owned and traded, pumped from the ground and burned in cars and factories. Of course, no analogy is perfect, but a better liquid to liken it to is water, with the global internet like a great borderless ocean of currents and tides," he said.

The value of data, Clegg said, comes not from "hoarding it" or trading it like a finite commodity, but from allowing it to flow freely and encouraging the innovation that comes from that free flow of data—the algorithms and the services and the intelligence that can be built on top of it, he added.

Also read: Facebook Faces Massive Damages in Cambridge Analytica Suit

“It is that innovation that has the potential to bring much greater wealth to India and it is that innovation that will place India, with its entrepreneurial society and its bedrock of engineering talent, at the forefront of the global internet for decades to come.”

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