January 2012 Bulletin
Welcome to the Centre for Internet and Society newsletter! In this issue we bring you the updates of our research, events, media coverage and videos of events organized by us during the month of January 2012!
Digital Natives with a Cause?
Digital Natives with a Cause? is a knowledge programme initiated by CIS, India and Hivos, Netherlands. It is a research inquiry that seeks to look 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. The major outputs have been a four book collective asking questions about theory and practice around 'digital revolutions' in a post MENA (Middle East - North Africa) world, a position paper, a scouting study and three international workshops.
- Digital AlterNatives Video Contest: The Everyday Digital Native — To Be, To Think, To Act, To Connect
'Digital Natives with a Cause?' project invites readers to review essays from the 'Digital AlterNatives with a Cause', a four-book collective published by Centre for Internet & Society and Hivos.
“Observations about intangible aspects of a movement will keep a research from clinging to activism with a capital A, and start seeing a gradation in the social movement practices. It is constructive and opens the door to analyses of multi-dimensional movements such as the Blank Noise initiative (India). Drawing on methods of identifying new developments to the field of social movement, Maesy examines some aspects of it: the issue, strategy, site of action, and internal mode of organization.”
Nuraini Juliastuti, Co-founder, KUNCI Cultural Studies Center
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. This includes persons with blindness, learning disabilities such as dyslexia, cerebral palsy and persons who do not have full control over their limbs. For these people, the material needs to be converted into alternate formats such as Braille, audio or video or electronic formats (text document, word document or PDF) which they can access using assistive technologies. Our key research has focused on a submission to amend the Indian Copyright to the HRD Ministry, publishing a policy handbook on e-accessibility, research on accessible mobile handsets in India and an analysis of the Working Draft of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2010.
- Technology for Accessibility in Higher Education, published in the Journal: Enabling Access for Persons with Disabilities to Higher Education and Workplace. Nirmita Narasimhan wrote an article.
- Making Mobile Phones and Services Accessible. CIS researched, edited and published this report in partnership with G3ict and ITU. The report contains a foreword, eleven chapters, a bibliography and glossary with contributions from Deepti Bharthur, Nirmita Narasimhan and Axel Leblois.
- ITU Tutorial on Audiovisual Media Accessibility, organized by the International Telecommunication Union, India International Centre, 14-15 March 2012. CIS is hosting the meeting. The Tutorial will be preceded by the fourth meeting of the Focus Group on Audio Visual Media Accessibility (FG AVA) on 13 March 2012. This meeting will take place at the same venue and will also be hosted by CIS, in cooperation with the ITU-APT Foundation of India.
Access to Knowledge
Access to Knowledge is a campaign to promote the fundamental principles of justice, freedom, and economic development. It deals with issues like copyrights, patents and trademarks, which are an important part of the digital landscape. We prepared the India report for the Consumers International IP Watchlist, made submission to the HRD Ministry on WIPO Broadcast Treaty, questioned the demonization of pirates, and advocated against laws (such as PUPFIP Bill) that privatize public funded knowledge.
- Gandhi, Freedom, and the Dilemmas of Copyright: To commemorate Mahatma Gandhi's death anniversary, CIS organised a public lecture. Prof. Shyamkrishna Balganesh of the University of Pennsylvania gave a lecture.
The advent of the Internet has radically defined what it means to be open and collaborative. Even the Internet is built upon open standards and free/libre/open source software. CIS has been committed and actively campaigned for promotion of open standards, open access and free/libre/open source software.
- Summary of the Minutes of the Workshop on Biodiversity Informatics, organized by the Western Ghats Portal team to explore the contemporary state of biodiversity informatics at Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and Environment (ATREE), Bangalore on 25 November 2011.
- Design!PubliC — Innovation and the Public Interest: On the 14th of October, 2011, the Center for Knowledge Societies organized the second edition of the Design Public Conclave, a conversation on how innovation can serve the Public Interest. The conclave was held at the National Gallery of Modern Art in Bangalore.
- Report on the 'Open Access to Academic Knowledge' workshop: On Wednesday the 2nd of November, during Open Access Week, the Indian Institute of Science in conjunction with the Centre for Internet and Society held a workshop on Open Access at the National Centre for Science Information, in Bangalore. We recorded the meeting and published it online.
- Geekup on Open Data in Bangalore: Hapee de Groot, Hivos, Netherlands gave a talk on Open Data and its use for citizen engagement.
- Wikipedia turns 11 today: The Bangalore event, open to all Wikipedia users, contributors and enthusiasts, is being held at the Centre for Internet and Society at Domlur.
The Hindu, 15 January 2012
The Tunis Agenda of the second World Summit on the Information Society has defined internet governance as the development and application by governments, the private sector and civil society, in their respective roles of shared principles, norms, rules, decision-making procedures and programmes that shape the evolution and use of the internet. CIS partnered with Privacy International and Society in Action Group which has produced outputs in banking, telecommunications, consumer rights, etc., submitted open letters to Parliamentary Committee on UID, feedbacks on NIA Bill, and IT Rules.
- Keeping it Private
As we disclose more information online, we must ask who might access it and why, writes Nishant Shah in the Indian Express, 15 January 2012.
- Click to Change
From organising political protests and flash mobs to uploading their versions of Kolaveri Di, people brought about change with the help of the internet, Nishant Shah, Indian Express, 1 January 2012.
- The Quixotic Fight to Clean up the Web
The ongoing attempt to pre-screen online content won’t change anything. It will only drive netizens into the arms of criminals, writes Sunil Abraham, Tehelka Magazine, Vol 9, Issue 04, 28 January 2012.
- Sense and Censorship
The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA) bills, at the US House of Representatives and Senate, respectively, appear to enforce property rights, but are, in fact, trade bills, Sunil Abraham in the Indian Express, 20 January 2012.
- Our Internet and the Law
Nishant Shah was interviewed by the BBC Channel 5 (Radio) for its Outriders section. Jamillah Knowles reports this. Listen to the podcast online, BBC Radio, 24 January 2012.
- Privacy Matters — Analyzing the Right to "Privacy Bill"
On January 21, 2012 a public conference “Privacy Matters” was held at the Indian Institute of Technology in Mumbai. It was the sixth conference organised in the series of regional consultations held as “Privacy Matters”. The present conference analyzed the Draft Privacy Bill and the participants discussed the challenges and concerns of privacy in India.
- Future of Integrated Science Education in Higher Education in India
The Higher Education Innovation and Research Application (HEIRA) at the Centre for the Study of Culture and Society (CSCS) and the Centre for Contemporary Studies (CCS) at the Indian Institute of Sciences (IISc) hosted a two day workshop on 2 and 3 January 2012 on the Future of Integrated Science Education in Higher Education in India at the Centre for Contemporary Studies, IISc. Nishant Shah participated in the workshop.
- Twitter’s Censorship Move Aimed at Regaining China?
"The region-specific blocking was already being used on video hosting websites like YouTube and Hulu, where due to the wishes of copyright owners many videos are not available in India. Twitter is extending this technology to its tweets.”
Pranesh Prakash in International Business Times, 28 January 2012.
“Storing data makes it prone to misuse by authorities as well as corporations... I don't want my bakery shop owner to know what kind of medicines I buy from the nearby medical store.”
Sunil Abraham in the Times of India, 26 January 2012.
“New changes are not good for a consumer's privacy.”
Sunil Abraham in Punjab Newsline, 27 January 2012.
- Tangled Web
“We did a policy sting operation wherein we sent fraudulent notices to big web sites...in one case where we asked for the removal of three comments, they removed all 13. So there is already a private censorship underway.”
Sunil Abraham in the Week, 21 January 2012.
- POV: Should user-generated content be monitored?
“We should not fool ourselves into thinking that private sector companies like Google will defend our fundamental rights. The next Parliament session is the last opportunity for parliamentarians to ask for the revocation of the rules for intermediaries, cyber-cafes and reasonable security practices.”
Sunil Abraham in afaqs, 19 January 2012.
- Indian Internet Lawsuit Puts Spotlight on Freedom of Expression
“These rules have the potential to curtail debate and discussion on the net... They allow for all sorts of subjective tests by private parties and we predicted they would have a chilling effect on freedom of expression online.”
Sunil Abraham in the Voice of America, 19 January 2012.
- India: obscene pics of gods require massive human censorship of Google, Facebook
“It’s difficult to establish exactly what is anti-religious: for example, the Hindu profession of belief in multiple gods is blasphemous to Muslims, Christians and Jews.”
Sunil Abraham in ars technica, 14 January 2012.
- Is India Ignoring its own Internet Protections?
“The I.T. Act provides immunity to (Internet companies) and that should be the default starting position.”
Sunil Abraham in the Wall Street, 16 January 2012.
- India internet: clean-up or censorship?
Sunil Abraham was quoted in Financial Time’s beyondbrics, 13 January 2012.
- Twists and turns of the SOPA opera
“In terms of infrastructure, the U.S. controls critical web resources. Contrasting this to the Chinese firewall that blocks content for users within its jurisdiction, the U.S. decision to redirect a link can act as a ‘global block’.”
Sunil Abraham in the Hindu, 15 January 2012.
- Activists cry foul against Aadhaar
Sunil Abraham participated in the meet on Aadhaar convened by the Indian Social Action Forum.
The Telegraph, 12 January 2012.
- NGO questions people's privacy in UID scheme
“The UID project was allowed to march on without any protection being put in place.”
Sunil Abraham in the Times of India, 11 January 2012.
- Revealed: Bangalore’s Basic Instincts
“If you look at the Google trend or any other website, Bangalore does not figure among the top 10 cities that surfs for porn. But that does not mean that Bangalore does not surf porn. It only means that we have a very sophisticated surfer with a very specific type. They don’t go through Google or other websites. They know how to go about it. But whether it affects their personal lives is lot more complicated.”
Sunil Abraham in the Bangalore Mirror, 8 January 2012.
- Facebook, Google face censorship in India
“Traditional intellectual property rights holders like movie studios, music companies and software vendors are trying to protect their obsolete business models by pushing for the adoption of blanket surveillance and filtering technologies.”
Sunil Abraham in SmartPlanet, 5 January 2012.
- Trail of the Trolls
“Trolling provokes a non-productive argument and as of now it is not considered a criminal offence anywhere in the world.”
The Telegraph, 4 January 2012.
- Constitution of Group of Experts to Deliberate on Privacy Issues
It has been decided to constitute a Small Group of Experts under the Chairmanship of Justice A.P. Shah, Former Chief Justice, Delhi High Court, to identify the privacy issues and prepare a paper to facilitate authoring the Privacy Bill. Pranesh Prakash is one of the members.
Published by the Planning Commission, New Delhi.
- 2011: The year India began to harness social media
“We saw an increased sharing of digital content whether photos, videos, songs, news or blogs pointing to the Why This Kolaveri Di video, which went viral on YouTube with over 1.3 million views within a week of its release.”
Nishant Shah in the Sunday Guardian, 1 January 2012.
- Section 79 of the Information Technology Act by Pranesh Prakash
- How India Makes E-books Easier to Ban than Books (And How We Can Change That) by Pranesh Prakash. This was reproduced in Medianama.
- The High Level Privacy Conclave
Privacy India in partnership with the International Development Research Centre, Canada, Society in Action Group, Gurgaon and Privacy International, UK is organizing the High Level Privacy Conclave at the Paharpur Business Centre, Nehru Place Greens in New Delhi on Friday, 3 February 2012.
- All India Privacy Symposium
Privacy India in partnership with the International Development Research Centre, Canada, and Society in Action Group, Gurgaon, Privacy International, UK and Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative is organizing the All India Privacy Symposium at the India International Centre, New Delhi on Saturday, 4 February 2012.
- Workshop on the Standardization of Kannada Computing Terminology, 28-29 January 2012, Centre for Internet & Society, Bangalore.
- The Curious Case of Whose Data is it Anyway? The second round of discussions of the Exposing Data Series was co-organized by Tactical Tech and CIS. Siddharth Hande and Hapee de Groot gave lectures.
- "ಕನ್ನಡ ಮತ್ತು ತಂತ್ರಜ್ಞಾನದ ಜೊತೆ ಜೊತೆಗೆ..." organised in TERI, Bangalore, 22 January 2012.
The growth in telecommunications in India has been impressive. While the potential for growth and returns exist, a range of issues need to be addressed for this potential to be realized. One aspect is more extensive rural coverage and the second aspect is a countrywide access to broadband which is low at about eight million subscriptions. Both require effective and efficient use of networks and resources, including spectrum. In this connection, Shyam Ponappa continues to write his monthly column for the Business Standard.
Article by Shyam Ponappa
- Reversing India's Downward Trajectory
The country can regain growth momentum with rate cuts and telecom reforms, writes Shyam Ponappa in this column published in the Business Standard on 5 January 2012.
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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.