Tamil Nadu Data Policy 2022 Unveiled

On 16th March 2022, the Tamil Nadu Government released Tamil Nadu Data Policy 2022 with the objective of aiding policy-making, improving implementation of schemes, encouraging value-added services and improving access to and quality of services.

As per the Policy, a State-level data governance committee, headed by the Chief Secretary, shall be responsible for providing strategic guidance for the data policy framework, while a data inter-departmental committee, headed by the Chief Executive Officer of Tamil Nadu e-Governance Agency (TNeGA), shall make the operational- level decisions as per the guidelines envisaged under the policy. The CEO of the TNeGA shall be appointed as the State’s Chief Data Officer.

The policy shall be applicable to all Public Authorities as defined under section 2(h) of the Right to Information Act, 2005 within the jurisdiction of Tamil Nadu state.  Additionally, it shall also apply to  all data and information created, generated, collected, and archived using public funds of Government of Tamil Nadu directly or through authorized agencies by various Departments / Organizations / Agencies and Autonomous bodies.

Policy provisions shall also concern to data that is recurring in nature and generated owing to automation (result output of their service delivery to citizens/business) of State user department process through various IT systems and to legacy data that is still available in non-machine-readable form.

While discussing Personal Data the policy maintained that “The Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019, [introduced in the Lok Sabha] that seeks to regulate data production and sharing is yet to become a law, but certain aspects of the Bill, like personally identifiable information and sensitive personal information, will be a factor to consider when we start using data produced in the government to solve the above challenges.”

The policy has also formulated rules governing access to non-open data. “Questions such as whether data are aggregated, who is going to use data, what data will be used for, whether data are personally identifiable, whether it has sensitive personal data are critical to determining access to the data.”

It is also maintained that the State shall  adopt a hybrid of state and centralised data storage mechanisms, and critical master data, like the family database, shall be stored centrally with appropriate safeguards and protection of personally identifiable information, such as removal of potentially identifiable characteristics and other statistical techniques. It has also been specified that data shall be published in machine readable formats, such as csv, xml and json, to minimise the use of PDFs.

It is pertinent to note that, while the Policy encourages dissemination and use of non-sensitive data freely, certain data shall be priced.  “The price of non-open data to be shared, if any, would be as per the policy of the Government of Tamil Nadu, and TNeGA shall be responsible for issuing instructions on data pricing.”