The Venture Capital Association of Pakistan (VCAP), representing venture capital funds with a focus on investments in the country’s digital economy, has voiced its apprehensions regarding the potential impact of the Personal Data Protection Bill on Pakistan’s burgeoning digital ecosystem. While acknowledging the significance of national security, data protection, and privacy, VCAP believes that the current Bill, if implemented without careful consideration, may hinder the growth of the nation’s digital economy and discourage foreign investment.
The Association recognizes the complexity of national security concerns; however, it raises concerns about certain provisions in the proposed Bill. Particularly, the requirement to store “critical” data locally and the strict restrictions on cross-border data transfers could impose limitations on local digital businesses and curtail access to global digital services for Pakistani citizens. This could adversely affect startups that heavily rely on cloud-based services offered by tech giants like Amazon, Google, and Microsoft. Furthermore, it may hinder the full realization of the potential of cutting-edge technologies like Artificial Intelligence for tech companies in Pakistan. Such restrictions could impede the growth of local enterprises and limit consumers’ access to valuable online resources.
VCAP advocates for transparent stakeholder consultations to collaboratively develop a balanced regulatory framework that supports data protection while promoting the growth of Pakistan’s digital economy. By fostering effective collaboration, it aims to establish a robust data protection framework that safeguards the economic interests of Pakistani entrepreneurs while ensuring citizens’ privacy rights. A harmonious and competitive digital ecosystem can thus be nurtured, conducive to innovation and progress.
The Association urges policymakers and stakeholders to work together toward finding a solution that strikes the right balance between data protection, national security, and the growth of Pakistan’s digital landscape. By doing so, they can foster an environment that empowers local businesses, attracts foreign investments, and promotes a thriving digital economy in Pakistan.