The Investor Education and Protection Fund Authority (IEPFA), in partnership with the esteemed National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER), successfully conducted a significant webinar under the theme “Role of Data Protection Act, 2023 in Protecting Investors in the Digital Era”. The webinar, held on October 30, 2023, witnessed the convergence of diverse stakeholders, including government entities, academic institutions, investors, and industry experts. At the outset, Dr C.S. Mohapatra, IEPF Chair Professor at NCAER, in his welcome address, highlighted the need for and importance of the Digital Personal Data Protection Act (DPDP) Act, with special reference to its role in protecting investors in the digitalized era. Carefully crafted and refined over a five-year period, the Digital Personal Data Protection Act establishes a framework for the responsible processing of digital personal data. It recognises both the individual’s right to safeguard their personal information and the necessity of processing such data for lawful purposes. It serves as a safeguard for investors, encouraging their active participation in the dynamic field of investments and alleviating their initial concerns regarding data breaches. This was the third webinar/seminar organised under this series in 2023-24.
The event featured an insightful keynote address by Ms Anita Shah Akella, CEO of IEPFA and Joint Secretary in the Ministry of Corporate Affairs. Ms Akella’s address underscored the criticality of protection of personal data in the rapidly evolving financial landscape. In a lucid manner, quoting examples from day-to-day life, Ms. Akella highlighted the significance and necessity of the DPDP Act in the present scenario, where each and every all data, such as, AADHAAR, Voter ID, etc., all are linked to phone numbers. A criminal who gets the access of the phone number gets a swift access to all the data in this space. Therefore, a robust framework for protecting the investor data with the overall objective of safeguarding investor interests is very crucial.
The event’s highlight was a stimulating panel discussion titled “Role of Data Protection Act, 2023 in Protecting Investors in the Digital Era”. Following a brief presentation on basic provisions of the Act that help protecting investor data, the esteemed panellists shared their expertise on various related issues, including data protection framework and initiatives, digitalisation challenges, cybercrime awareness, evolving banking systems, and the pivotal role of regulatory bodies in fostering protection.
The distinguished panellists included:
Mr Gangesh Varma, Principal Associate of Technology and Policy at Saraf and Partners, made a short presentation and discussed on the rights and data principles of companies as well as retail investors and put thrust on a proper implementation strategy. It will require all stakeholders including companies, and users or citizens to play their respective roles in promoting a culture of privacy in their transactions and bringing about behavioural change, for effective implementation. He stated that the realization of the goals of data protection in the investor space will require a ‘whole-of-society’ approach.
Mr Prabhu Narayan, Director (Cyber Security in the Financial Sector), Ministry of Finance, inter-alia mentioned the critical role of CERT-FIN, importance of cyber security measures, and measures taken by the government, and explained how the Act will promote financial inclusion in the country. He mentioned that the DPDP Act will ensure transparency, and enhance data quality and security obligations for data fiduciaries. It will also safeguard children’s data and healthcare-related data in a very lawful process.
Ms Ritu Prakash Singh, MSME Research Investor Relations U GRO Capital Ltd, discussed positive effects of the Act on both the MSME sector as well as the capital market. She concluded with the remark that the DPDP Act will create a culture of compliance in the digital world. However, collaborative efforts between government, industry, and stakeholders would be essential in shaping a robust data protection ecosystem in India.
Mr S.K. Panigrahy, CGM, Reserve Bank of India (RBI), provided insights into the evolving banking systems, along with the RBI’s role in promoting investor awareness in modern times and the role of this Act in the banking sector. He mentioned that the Act emphasises the need to respect the personal financial data of the customers, and ways to prevent access to this data for fraudsters through various rules, that are to be implemented soon.
The engaging panel discussion was adeptly moderated by Dr. C.S. Mohapatra, IEPF Chair Professor at NCAER. He stated that data breaches have become an increasingly pressing concern in today’s digital world, affecting both individuals and organisations. These breaches are driven by hackers seeking to profit from selling large volumes of stolen data to other criminals on the dark web. These incidents underscore the urgency of safeguarding data, not only for individuals but also in the context of investor protection. This legislation establishes a robust framework for investors and citizens alike that not only shields personal data but also fosters trust, ultimately fortifying the digital ecosystem. including for investors. By promoting responsible behaviour among platforms, the DPDP Act contributes significantly to improving investor engagement and ensuring the security of their financial interests.
Concluding the discussion, Mr Sumit Agarwal, AGM at IEPFA, extended a vote of thanks, acknowledging the invaluable contributions of all the participants, speakers, and attendees. He lauded the collaborative spirit of the webinar, aligning stakeholders towards the shared goal of enhancing financial literacy and safeguarding investor interests through proper implementation of the DPDP Act.
The success of the webinar reflects the collective commitment of stakeholders to foster financial awareness and safeguard investor interests amidst a rapidly evolving financial landscape. In an environment wherein global economies embrace digital transformation and financial inclusivity, the event illuminated the pivotal role of data protection in the backdrop of these advancements.
The Investor Education and Protection Fund Authority (IEPFA) was set up on September 7, 2016, under the aegis of the Ministry of Corporate Affairs, Government of India, for administering the Investor Education and Protection Fund for making refunds of shares, unclaimed dividends, and matured deposits/debentures, among other things, to investors.