A global Internet with unrestrained global flow of data has been held up as the ideal. However, while there is great value in it, there are also other, often competing, imperatives of ensuring rule of law over the internet and data, and using local and national data for encouraging domestic digital industry and for policy making and governance. It is not longer possible to speak of 'free flow of data' in any absolute sense, neither can 'data localisation' be instinctively condemned. Different data need different treatments, which can lie on a spectrum between these two ends. This policy brief by IT for Change examines how 'data localisation' is often necessary for ensuring the rule of law and for digital industrialisation of developing countries. Going forward we need more nuanced views on the issues of global free flow of data and data localisation.
Broadly based on this policy brief, an oped "Bringing data under the rule of law" appeared in The Hindu.