April 2012 Bulletin
In this issue of our newsletter, we bring you updates of our latest research, event reports, videos, news and media coverage during the month of April 2012:
The Internet Governance programme conducts research around the various social, technical, and political underpinnings of global and national Internet governance, and includes online privacy, freedom of speech, and Internet governance mechanisms and processes:
Google Policy Fellowship
- Intermediary Liability in India: Chilling Effects on Free Expression on the Internet
Rishabh Dara, Google Policy Fellow
CIS in partnership with Google India conducted the Google Policy Fellowship 2011. This was offered for the first time in Asia Pacific as well as in India. Rishabh Dara was selected as a fellow. He researched upon issues relating to freedom of expression. The results of the paper demonstrate that the ‘Information Technology (Intermediaries Guidelines) Rules 2011’ notified by the Government of India on April 11, 2011 have a chilling effect on free expression.
- The Centre for Internet & Society Joins the Global Network Initiative
CIS officially joined the Global Network Initiative. CIS would bring to GNI in-depth expertise on global internet governance as well as online freedom of expression and privacy in India. GNI Executive Director Susan Morgan said “We are delighted to add our first member based in India and welcome CIS’s engagement in support of transparency and accountability in technology.”
Op-ed in the Hindu
- Chilling Effects and Frozen Words (Lawrence Liang, Hindu, April 30, 2012): “What if the real danger is not that we lose our freedom of speech and expression but our sense of humour as a nation?...One hopes that our lawmakers, even if they are averse to reading the Indian Constitution, will be slightly more open to the poetic licence granted by Kautilya.”
Columns in the Indian Express
- The Idea of the Book (Nishant Shah, Indian Express, April 8, 2012): “Its future lies in a trans-media format that is ever evolving... The form of the book is going to change as it has over the last 500 years. However, the idea of the book — a receptacle that contains and records collective wisdom, information, ideas, knowledge, experiences and imagination of humankind – is here to stay.”
- India's Broken Internet Laws Need a Shot of Multi-stakeholderism by Pranesh Prakash. (An edited version of this article was published in the Indian Express as "Practise what you preach" on Thursday, April 26, 2012.)
- The All India Privacy Symposium (India International Centre, New Delhi, February 4, 2012): The symposium was organised around five thematic panel discussions: privacy and transparency, privacy and e-governance initiatives, privacy and national security, privacy and banking and health privacy. Privacy India in partnership with CIS, International Development Research Centre, Privacy International, Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative and Society in Action Group organised this event.
- The High Level Privacy Conclave (Paharpur Business Centre, Nehru Place Greens, New Delhi, February 3, 2012): The conclave was organised around two panels: national Security and privacy and internet and privacy. Malavika Jayaram moderated the first panel discussion on national Security and privacy. Sunil Abraham moderated the second panel discussion on internet and privacy. Privacy India in partnership with CIS, International Development Research Centre, Privacy International, Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative and Society in Action Group organised this event.
- Resisting Internet Censorship: Strategies for Furthering Freedom of Expression in India (Bangalore International Centre, TERI Complex, Domlur, April 21, 2012): CIS co-organised this event with the Foundation for Media Professionals. Members of Parliament, P. Rajeeve and Rajeev Chandrashekar and Member of Legislative Council, Karnataka, V.R. Sudarshan participated in the event.
- Konkan Corridor Project — A Lecture by Vasant Gangavane (Ashoka Innovators for the Public, Bangalore, April 16, 2012): Well known social worker Vasant Gangavane gave a lecture.
- Braitenberg Cybernetic Vehicles: Workshop, Film Screening & Discussion (Metaculture Media Lab, CIS, Bangalore, April 14, 2012): There was a short presentation about Braitenberg vehicles.
- GIGA International Conference Series - 1 (NALSAR University of Law, Justice City Campus, Shameerpet, Hyderabad, April 5 and 6, 2012): The Institute of Global Internet Governance and Advocacy and Department of Electronics and Information Technology organised the conference. Sunil Abraham gave a lecture on Digital Natives vs. Digital Naivety in the session on Internet Governance & Society.
- Expert-Group on Privacy Issues (New Delhi, April 13 and 14, 2012): The Planning Commission constituted this expert group under the chairmanship of Justice AP Shah. Sunil Abraham participated in the first meeting of the sub-group on privacy issues.
- Privacy International's Trip to Asia (by Emma Draper in Privacy International blog): In February 2012, the Privacy International team travelled to India, Bangladesh and Hong Kong to meet with local partners in the region and speak at four conferences they had organized. The team got a chance to interview its partners in India and Bangladesh on the privacy issues facing them at the moment. This is captured in a video about contemporary privacy issues in India and Bangladesh.
- It’s mainstream vs social (Guest column by Mahima Kaul, Sunday Guardian, April 30, 2012): “If the video is judged to be 'obscene', then under s.67 of the Information Technology Act, 'causing [obscenity] to be transmitted', is also a crime,”...Sunil Abraham quoted in the Sunday Guardian.
- From Cyber India to Censor India: Groups challenge didactic govt (by Satarupa Paul, Sunday Guardian, April 29, 2012): “Instead of a court deciding what makes content illegal, private intermediaries get to decide. And there is no penalty for anyone abusing the take-down notice system,”...Sunil Abraham quoted in the Sunday Guardian.
- Social Media 1, Indian Government 0 (by Heather Timmons, New York Times, April 26, 2012): “Because India does not have a bilateral cyber-crime agreement with the United States (as the European Union does), getting American companies like Facebook and Google to take down or investigate the source of content that offends Indian government officials can be a slow and cumbersome process,”...Sunil Abraham quoted in the New York Times.
- Private sector censors (by Salil Tripathi, LiveMint, April 25, 2012): “Companies which have no interest in free speech are now taking these decisions. They have the power to do so and they are using it without any sense of responsibility,”...Sunil Abraham quoted in LiveMint.
- Views | Why the Left may for once be right (by Pramit Bhattacharya, LiveMint, April 23, 2012): “It has become much easier in India to ban an e-book than a book,”...Pranesh Prakash quoted in LiveMint.
- Campaign against curbs on websites gathers steam (by Arpan Daniel Varghese, IBN Live, April 23, 2012): “If a company wants to target your organization’s social media network, they can keep sending fraudulent emails to you and you will have to keep deleting it unless you are ready to face litigation or government action...Sunil Abraham quoted in IBN Live.
- Expect anti-net censorship echo in house (by Arpan Daniel Varghese, IBN Live, April 25, 2012): “why should freedom of speech and expression be any different on the Internet?”...Sunil Abraham quoted in IBN Live.
- Mobilising support for freedom on the Web (by Deepa Kurup Hindu, April 22, 2012): Rishabh Dara’s research published as part of the Google Policy Fellowship is quoted.
- MPs to be taught ‘draconian’ IT Act Rules as India.net support galvanises for annul motion (by Prachi Shrivastava, Legally India, April 23, 2012): Prachi has blogged about the Resisting Internet Censorship co-organised by CIS and the Foundation for Media Professionals in Bangalore.
- India arrests professor over political cartoon (by Rama Lakshmi, Washington Post, April 13, 2012): “The state’s new-found aversion to non-believers has gone a bit too far,”...Pranesh Prakash quoted in Washington Post.
- A beauty’s blog creates furore (by Lakshmi Krupa, Deccan Chronicle, April 10, 2012).
Digital Natives with a Cause? is a research inquiry that looks at the changing landscape of social change and political participation and the role that young people play through digital and Internet technologies, in emerging information societies. Consolidating knowledge from Asia, Africa and Latin America, it builds a global network of knowledge partners who critically engage with discourse on youth, technology and social change, and look at alternative practices and ideas in the Global South:
- 5 Challenges for the Future of Learning: Digital Natives and How We Shall Teach Them (Wyndham Parc 55 Hotel, San Francisco, California, March 1, 2012): Nishant Shah gave a ignite talk. The video is now online.
Book Review...a few excerpts
- Immigrants not Natives: “‘To Be’, ‘To Think’, ‘To Act’ and ‘To Connect’ provides many fascinating and thought-provoking insights into the possibilities for reflection, action and interaction,”... Sally Wyatt, eHumanities Group, Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts & Sciences/Maastricht University.
India has an estimated 70 million disabled persons who are unable to read printed materials due to some form of physical, sensory, cognitive or other disability. The disabled need accessible content, devices and interfaces facilitated via copyright law and electronic accessibility policies:
- ITU Tutorial on Audiovisual Media Accessibility (India International Centre, New Delhi, March 14 – 15, 2012): CIS in cooperation with the ITU-APT Foundation of India organised a two-day tutorial on Audio-Visual Media Accessibility. Sunil Abraham was the Master of Ceremony on Day 1. Ravi Shanker, Administrator, Universal Service Obligation Fund, Dr. Govind, CEO, National Internet Exchange of India, Swaran Lata, Director and Head of Department, TDIL Programme, DIT, R.N. Jha, Deputy Director General (International Relations), Department of Telecommunications and Archana Gulati, Financial Advisor, National Disaster Management Authority participated in this event.
New Fellow at CIS
- Rahul Cherian joins CIS: Disability policy activist, lawyer and co-founder of Inclusive Planet, Rahul Cherian has joined CIS as a Fellow. Rahul will be working on disability policy reform and advocacy.
Access to Knowledge
The Access to Knowledge programme addresses the harms caused to consumers, developing countries, human rights, and creativity/innovation from excessive regimes of copyright, patents, and other such monopolistic rights over knowledge:
- 2012 Global Congress on Intellectual Property and the Public Interest (FGV Law School, Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, December 15 – 17, 2012): We are pleased to announce the Second Global Congress on Intellectual Property and the Public Interest. The theme for this year’s Congress will be “Setting the positive agenda in motion,” and will have a special focus on developments and opportunities in the so-called “BRICS” group of emerging economies. CIS is one of the six members of the Global Congress Planning Committee..
News & Media Coverage
- Hacking, Modding & Making (by Brendan Shanahan): “If something has been made technologically possible, we cannot make it illegal and hope that everyone will now pretend that this is no longer technologically possible...We can't have the government checking everyone's iPod and laptop. The better move is to change the model,”...Sunil Abraham quoted in GQ.
The 'Openness' programme critically examines alternatives to existing regimes of intellectual property rights, and transparency and accountability. Under this programme, we study Open Government Data, Open Access to Scholarly Literature, Open Access to Law, Open Content, Open Standards, and Free/Libre/Open Source Software:
Event Reports and Video
- Arduino Workshop at CIS (CIS, Bangalore, March 3, 2012). Video is now online.
- Hejje — Together with Kannada & Technology (Bangalore, January 22, 2012): The event marked the first step to bring everyone working in Kannada in the IT field to brainstorm the ideas for future steps, and create a space for technological collaboration in Kannada. CIS co-organised the event with Sanchaya.net, Vishwakannada.com and Chanda Pustaka.
- Bangalore Meet-up for the Open Government Partnership Brasilia (CIS, Bangalore, April 17, 2012): Ananya Panda and Pranesh Prakash participated in the first annual meeting of Open Government Partnership remotely.
- Design!PubliC – Event in Delhi (New Delhi, April 19 and 20, 2012): The event was co-organised by Centre for Knowledge Societies in partnership with IBM, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Google, HeadStart, [email protected], LiveMint and CIS.
- International Space Apps Challenge (CIS, Bangalore, April 21 and 22, 2012): An international codeathon-style event took place in seven continents, CIS organised the event in Bangalore.
While the potential for growth and returns exist for telecommunications in India, a range of issues need to be addressed. One aspect is more extensive rural coverage and the other is a countrywide access to broadband which is low. Both require effective and efficient use of networks and resources, including spectrum:
Column in Business Standard
- China 3: Build Comprehensive Ecosystems (Shyam Ponappa, Business Standard, April 5, 2012): “Failures in electricity, transport and broadband have common strands. China's approach offers a possible alternative.”
CIS was registered as a society in Bangalore in 2008. As an independent, non-profit research organisation, it runs different policy research programmes such as Accessibility, Access to Knowledge, Openness, Internet Governance, and Telecom. Over the last four years our policy research programmes have resulted in outputs such as the e-Accessibility Policy Handbook for Persons with Disabilities with International Telecommunications Union, and Digital Alternatives with a Cause?, Thinkathon Position Papers and the Digital Natives with a Cause? Report with Hivos. With foreign governments we worked on National Enterprise Architecture and Government Interoperability Framework for Govt. of Iraq; Open Standards Policy for Govt. of Moldova; Free and Open Software Centre of Excellence project plan for Saudi Arabia; eGovernance Strategy Document for Govt. of Tajikistan. With the Government of India we have done policy research for Ministry of Communications & Information Technology, Ministry of Human Resource Development, Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions, Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, etc., on WIPO Treaties, Copyright Bill, Interoperability Framework in eGovernance, Privacy Bill, NIA Bill, National Policy on Electronics and IT Act.
CIS is an accredited NGO at WIPO and has given policy briefs to delegations from various countries, our Programme Manager, Nirmita Narasimhan won the National Award for Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities from the Government of India and also received the NIVH Excellence Award.
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CIS is grateful to Kusuma Trust which was founded by Anurag Dikshit and Soma Pujari, philanthropists of Indian origin, for its core funding and support for most of its projects.