The global search giant is setting up its second data centre in India, providing a fillip to the Modi government’s determined effort to ensure that data about Indians is stored in servers located within its international borders.
India’s quest for greater levels of data localisation received a leg up on Thursday when Google announced it was setting up a second cluster of data centres in and around New Delhi to meet the growing demands of the domestic Indian market, a Reuters report said.
“We have seen enormous growth in demand for Google cloud services in India so expanding our footprint in a new cloud region gives us the ability to offer more capacity for growth over many years,” the report quoted Thomas Kurian, CEO at Google Cloud, telling a news conference. “It's a large commitment from us in capital and infrastructure investment and it's designed to allow us to capture the opportunity that we see around growth."
This will be Google’s second set of data centres in India following the launch of its first cloud region in Mumbai in 2017, and the 10th in the Asia Pacific region. “The new infrastructure will help provide solutions for problems such as disaster recovery within India and ensure low latency for many state-run enterprises in and around Delhi,” Reuters quoted Kurian as adding.
Last year, Google CEO Sundar Pichai had announced plans to invest $10 billion in India over the next five-to-seven years. “As we make these investments, we look forward to working alongside Prime Minister Modi and the Indian government, as well as Indian businesses of all sizes to realise our shared vision for a Digital India," he had said.
Pichai had not specifically mentioned the setting up of new data centres in this country though he did mention Google would invest in infrastructure. Google, too, didn’t clarify whether the newly announced investment is part of the package announced by its CEO last year.
Incidentally, India does not specifically have a law on data localisation, though a number of laws, circulars and government orders refer to it. In 2007, the Unified Telecom License agreement mandated Indian telcos to store their users’ data within the borders of India. Then, the Companies Act 2013 requires companies registered in India to maintain their books of accounts only in India.
Further, the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) stipulates that the original records of all policyholders have to be maintained within India. The 2017 Guidelines for Government Departments on Contractual Terms Related to Cloud Services also direct all government departments to mandate local storage of data in their contracts for cloud services.
The issue of data localisation acquired some urgency in 2017 when the Supreme Court ruled that the right to life and liberty guaranteed to citizens under the Indian Constitution included the right to privacy. Extending this line of argument, it held that privacy of personal information was a fundamental facet of the right to privacy and directed the government to enact a data privacy law.
The draft Personal Data Protection Bill is currently winding its way through Parliament but there is no clarity on when it will be passed.
However, given the Indian government’s determination to ensure data localisation, several US corporations have begun setting up data centres in India in anticipation of new laws in this regard as this is the only billion-plus market in the world that is open to them to compete in.
Amazon’s AWS has already invested $1.6 billion on two data centres near the south Indian city of Hyderabad, while Microsoft and Oracle, two of the largest players in this field, have also set up such infrastructure in India to process the data of their Indian users.