June 2012 Bulletin
Welcome to the newsletter issue of June 2012. The present issue features an updated version of the Unlicensed Spectrum Policy brief for Government of India and a report of the Privacy Matters series organised in Ahmedabad on June 16, 2012.
Digital Natives with a Cause? examines the changing landscape of social change and political participation in light of 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:
New Blog Entries
- The Bots That Got Some Votes Home by Nilofar Ansher: The author gives us some startling updates on the "Digital Natives Video Contest" voting results declared in May 2012.
- Hyper-connected, Hyper-lonely? by Nilofar Ansher.
Digital Natives Newsletter
- Home Alone: Volume 10, Issue 1, April 2012 of the Digital Natives with a Cause newsletter features Hyper-connected, yet Hyper-lonely. It puts the spotlight on an emerging trope in society and media: the more connected we are to our gadgets, peer network and social media, the lonelier we feel.
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:
Op-ed in the Hindu
- The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Injunctions (Lawrence Liang, The Hindu, May 23, 2012): “The same ‘Ashok Kumar,' now restrained from infringing the copyright of the film, ‘3,' helped its signature song, ‘Kolaveri,’ go viral by downloading and copying it without any restraints.”
Columns / Articles
- ಡಿಜಿಟಲ್ ನಿರ್ಬಂಧಗಳ ನಿರ್ವಹಣೆ (Sunil Abraham, Prajavani, June 9, 2012): Read the English translation here.
- ಸೃಜನಶೀಲತೆಗೆ ಸಂದ ಗೌರವ (Lawrence Liang, Prajavani, June 9, 2012): Read the English translation here.
- Copyright Amendment: Bad, but Could Have Been Much Worse (Sunil Abraham, Business Standard, June 10, 2012): The changes to the Copyright Act protect the disabled — but are restrictive about cover versions and web freedom.
- A Ludicrous Ban (Achal Prabhala and Lawrence Liang, Open Magazine, June 2, 2012): Our courts cannot be used as quack-houses to buy pills for imaginary problems. The copyright industry is not a sick patient; it’s just a hypochondriac. Films don’t fail because of piracy; they fail because they’re not worth watching. The most popular films in this country are also the most pirated, and yet they remain money-spinners. The real problem is the unbending inability of this industry to adjust to the world; to the Internet; to the life-changing technologies that human beings have witnessed and embraced and prospered by over the past two decades.
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 Content, Open Standards, Open Access to Law, and Free/Libre/Open Source Software:
- Wiki goes the oral citation way (Cyber Media, Chokkapan S, June 11, 2012): Achal Prabhala who serves on the board of CIS speaks about the Oral Citations Project.
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:
- Window on the World: Subsequent to the publishing of a peer reviewed essay titled Resisting Revolutions: Questioning the Radical Potential of Citizen Action, CIS has been listed as one of the global organisations working on issues of participation, citizenship and new technologies along with a list of partner organisations. This was published by Palgrave Macmillan.
- 2012 Internet Freedom Fellows: The names of the 2012 Internet Freedom Fellows were announced on June 19, 2012. This was published by the US Department of State. Pranesh Prakash was selected as a Fellow.
Press Coverage of the Internet Freedom Fellows Event
- Internet Freedom Fellows Program Emphasizes Defense of Fundamental Freedoms Online (by Ambassador Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe in DipNote, June 25, 2012).
- Internet Freedom At Home: Governments, Companies Need Accountability, Speakers Say (by Catherine Saez, Intellectual Property Watch, June 22, 2012).
- Global Networks, Individual Freedoms: A Peer Forum on Internet Freedom and Human Rights: In Connection with the 2012 Internet Freedom Fellows Program, the United States Mission to the United Nations in Geneva invited Pranesh Prakash to a peer forum. The event was held on June 21, 2012, from 9.00 a.m. to 3.00 p.m.
Upcoming & Ongoing Events
- Privacy Matters — Consumer Privacy (India International Centre, New Delhi, July 7, 2012): Privacy India, in partnership with the Centre for Internet & Society, International Development Research Centre, Society in Action Group and Privacy International, invite you to a public conference focused on discussing the challenges and concerns to consumer privacy in India.
- The Fifth Elephant (NIMHANS Convention Centre, Bangalore, July 27 and 28, 2012): The event was organised by HasGeek and CIS. The first day covered the technology track and talks from business and industry were held on the following day.
- Privacy Mattes — Medical Privacy (Yashwantrao Chavan Academy of Development Administration, Rajbhavan Complex, Baner Road, Pune, June 30, 2012): Privacy India in partnership with the Indian Network for People living with HIV/AIDS, Centre for Internet & Society, IDRC, Society in Action Group and Privacy International organised this event. The discussions explored the various types of medical privacy including informational privacy, physical privacy, proprietary privacy and decisional privacy.
- GeekUp with Alan Knott-Craig (CIS, Bangalore, June 30, 2012): Alan Knott-Craig, founder of World of Avatar and CEO of Mxit, Africa’s largest social network gave a lecture.
- Freedom of Expression & Privacy Roundtable Discussion (University of Goa, June 2, 2012): Lawrence Liang and Chinmayi Arun were participants in the discussion.
Post-Media Lab organised this events series at Lüneburg/Berlin from June 20 to June 23, 2012. Nishant Shah participated in the event series as a speaker:
- Opening presentation – ‘Talk to Me’ (Halle für Kunst, Lüneburg, June 20, 2012): Nishant Shah along with Rasa Smite & Raitis Smits made a presentation.
- ‘What Would the Community Say?’ (Freiraum, Lüneburg, June 21, 2012): Nishant Shah in cooperation with DialogN reflected on the experiences about the changing face of citizen action in a post-mediatised world.
- The Community Complex, A Post-Media Lab conference (Denkerei, Berlin, June 22, 2012): Nishant Shah was one of the participants.
Other Events Participated
- India Privacy Meet (Hotel LeMeridien, New Delhi, June 29, 2012): The event was organised by Microsoft, DSCI and Greyhead. Sunil Abraham was a panelist in the session on Citizen Privacy.
- Meeting of the two Sub-Groups on Privacy Issues under the Chairmanship of Justice AP Shah (Yojana Bhawan, Planning Commission, June 27, 2012). Sunil Abraham participated in this meeting. The report of the committee will be used in drafting of the new privacy bill.
- CENSORSHIP 2020: The Future of Free Speech Online (Communication, Culture and Technology Program of Georgetown University 2nd Floor, Car Barn, 3520 Prospect St., N.W., Washington, DC, June 25, 2012): Pranesh Prakash participated in this event organised by the Internet Society. See the original published by Communication, Culture & Technology here.
- Multi-Stakeholder Consultation on ‘Internet Rights, Accessibility, Regulation & Ethics’ (Mirza Ghalib Hall, SCOPE Complex, New Delhi, May 3, 2012): Pranesh Prakash was a speaker in this event organised by Digital Empowerment Foundation, Association for Progressive Communications, Department of Information Technology and National Internet Exchange of India. Watch the video here.
- Internet at Liberty 2012 (Washington D.C., May 23 and 24, 2012): Sunil Abraham was a speaker in Plenary IV along with Cynthia Wong, Mohamed El Dahshan and Dunja Mijatović. Watch the video here. The event was organised by Google.
- Google Hangout with Ashoka Fellow Sunil Abraham: Ashoka Fellows are leading social entrepreneurs who have innovative solutions to social problems and the potential to change patterns across society. Sunil became an Ashoka Fellow in 1999. Watch the video.
- Clear and Present Danger: Attempts to Change Internet Governance and Implications for Press Freedom (National Endowment for Democracy, Washington D.C., June 26, 2012): The event was organised by National Endowment for Democracy. Pranesh Prakash participated in it.
- Overview of Google’s efforts to promote Internet Freedom and freedom of expression online, including its work on the following reports: “Google Transparency” and “Enabling Trade in the Era of Information Technologies: Breaking Down Barriers to the Free Flow of Information (California, June 28, 2012): The event was organised by Google. Pranesh Prakash participated in a meeting with Derek Slater from Google.
- Stanford University Roundtable Discussion (California, June 28, 2012): IFF Fellows introduced themselves and briefly talked about their background and work in internet freedom and human rights issues. Pranesh Prakash was one of the participants.
- EFF’s legislative efforts to defend free speech, privacy, innovation, and consumer rights (California, June 29, 2012): Pranesh Prakash participated in a meeting with Katitza Rodriguez, International Rights Director.
- Overview of Twitter’s new censorship policies and its impact on human rights activists around the world (California, June 29, 2012): Pranesh Prakash participated in a meeting with Carolina Janssen, Localization Content Coordinator. This was organised by Twitter.
- Best practices in utilizing Ustream’s live interactive broadcast platform to showcase human rights issues (June 29, 2012): Pranesh Prakash participated in this meeting organised by Ustream.
- Securing e-Governance: Ensuring Data Protection and Privacy (Ahmedabad, Management Association, Ahmedabad, June 16, 2012): Privacy India in partnership with the Centre for Internet & Society, Bangalore, International Development Research Centre, Canada, Privacy International, UK and the Society in Action Group, Gurgaon organised a public discussion. Prashant Iyengar and Nisha Thompson spoke at the event. A total of 30 people participated in the event.
Columns in FirstPost
- How Facebook is Blatantly Abusing our Trust (Nishant Shah, FirstPost, June 27, 2012): ‘Don’t fix it, if it ain’t broken’ is not an adage Facebook seems to subscribe to... The million dollar question – or maybe a slightly reduced price, given its public listing status on the stock-exchange right now – is that while Facebook might keep us safe from other people using our data, will it also be able to keep us safe from itself?
- Beyond Anonymous: Shit people say on Internet piracy (Nishant Shah, FirstPost, June 7, 2012): FirstPost published Nishant Shah's column along with the video that CIS and ALF had made on 'shit people say about piracy' as a lead story. The post is a series of provocations around piracy, censorship and the state of Internet in India. Like all good tasting things, these observations need to be taken with a pinch of salt. But it is the hope of the author that this serves as a response to otherwise very persistent voices that have been demonizing file-sharing online.
Article in the Times of India
- The Web of Our Strife (Pranesh Prakash, The Times of India, June 2, 2012): Given the current trend of states individually wielding excessive powers over various aspects of how their citizens access and use the internet, a Committee on Internet-Related Policies may well be what is needed to safeguard democratic principles and innovation on the internet.
- An Interview with Nishant Shah by Jamillah Knowles (Outriders, BBC Radio 5): “I think what we need to do is perhaps say that there is something happening with the internet in India and then maybe we can move on to figuring out what is happening to Anonymous because we had a series of challenges on freedom of speech and expression and online space in the country.”
New Fellow at CIS
- Chinmayi Arun, former Assistant Professor of Law at the West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences joined CIS as a Fellow. Chinmayi’s research focus will include privacy, free speech and access to information.
New Blog Entries
CIS entered into a small collaboration with Tata Telecommunications in India to celebrate the IPv6 day on June 6. CIS agreed to write 5500 word vignettes which were sent to their global database consisting of more than 900,000 users in the Asia-Pacific:
News & Media Coverage (International)
- India's struggle for online freedom (by Rebecca MacKinnon, Sydney Morning Herald, June 9, 2012): “If you start the drenching early on, by the time you get to 50 per cent [internet penetration], everyone will be well-behaved monkeys.”—Sunil Abraham.
- Hackers Take Protest to Indian Streets and Cyberspace (by Shreya Shah, Wall Street Journal, June 8, 2012): “The group attacked the Web site of India’s Supreme Court even when it says it does not attack Web sites used by the common man.” — Pranesh Prakash.
- The War for India's Internet (by Rebecca Mackinnon, Foreign Policy, June 6, 2012): “"On free speech I have high faith in the Indian judiciary...There is a good chance to launch a constitutional challenge.” — Sunil Abraham.
News & Media Coverage (National)
- No more blocking of entire websites? (by Danish Sheikh, Business Standard, June 24, 2012): CIS research on Intermediary Liability in India is referred to in this article.
- UID: Are your biometric I-cards stacked against you? (by M Rajashekhar, Economic Times, June 24, 2012): "If biometrics is used as authentication factor then it would be possible for a criminal to harvest your biometrics — such as using a glass to collect fingerprints — without your conscious cooperation. Or the registrar can cache your biometrics and duplicate transactions." — Sunil Abraham.
- Net Loss (Abimanyu Nagarajan, The Telegraph, June 20, 2012): “We sent takedown notices to e-commerce, content hosting, and news media sites...in most cases, we found the intermediaries were very risk averse." — Sunil Abraham.
- Cos spying on competitors, staff: Study (The Statesman, June 19, 2012): “Whether or not surveillance is legal, depends on the type... There is some private information a person will expect to remain private, and some information that is expected to be public — like Twitter feeds.” — Sunil Abraham.
- Recruitment Tracker: 21 students placed out of the 49 who sat for recruitment in Christ University’s School of Law, Class of 2012 (Bar and Bench News Network, June 11, 2012): CIS recruited Snehashish Ghosh.
- PPOs save placement-record as Christ Law’s 2nd graduating batch hosts fewer law firms (by Prachi Shrivastava in Legally India, June 10, 2012).
- India: The New Front Line in the Global Struggle for Internet Freedom (Atlantic, June 7, 2012): CIS report on Intermediary Liability in India is quoted.
- 'Anonymous' hackers to protest Indian Internet laws (AFP, June 8, 2012): The news was also published in NDTV, Jagran Post, The Times of India, LiveMint, and Economic Times on June 9, 2012.
- The new Internet watchdogs (Ronendra Singh, Hindu Business Line, June 12, 2012): “The Indian Government is not following the letter of the law and bypassing judicial safeguards in its crackdown on political speech...This aggressive enforcement is also having a chilling effect on access to knowledge and freedom of expression.” — Sunil Abraham.
- Concerns raised ahead of proposed India-US trade treaty (Hindu Business Line, June 13, 2012).
- Attempts to censor the web ill-advised (by Krishs Fernandes, The Times of India, June 3, 2012).
- Poor Guarantee of Online Freedom in India (by Geeta Seshu, Economic & Political Weekly, Vol XLVII No. 24, June 2012).
- Tata Communications embraces the change to IPv6 (tech 2, June 7, 2012).
- Internet opens doors to trillions more Net addresses with IPv6 (by Aaron Tan, techgoondu): “Despite the larger load of information, IPv6 packets are easier to handle and route, just like postcards with pin codes in their addresses are easier to deliver than those without.” — Nishant Shah.
- Biz moving to IPv6 but lower costs, support needed (intellasia.net, June 8, 2012).
- Govt websites to get new addresses (The Telegraph, June 7, 2012): “The future of our connected networks is IPv6. Not only is it more efficient and faster than IPv4, which we are currently working with, it is also more reliable and secure.” —Nishant Shah.
- Anonymous India’s Takedowns Could Be Counterproductive (by Nikhil Pahwa, Medianama, June 6, 2012).
- Watch out for cyber bullies (by KV Kurmanath, Hindu Business Line, June 4, 2012): “It would be very useful if both the government and civil society was more aggressive in awareness raising and triggering change in behaviour. Unfortunately this is a bit like smoking — even though people are aware of the issues — they engage in risky behaviour online.” — Sunil Abraham.
- Scared by a spoof? You’ve got to be kidding me! (by Dhamini Ratnam, June 3, 2012). Pranesh Prakash is quoted in this article.
- Protest@ censorship.com (by Sandhya Soman, The Times of India, June 5, 2012): “There is corporate and private censorship of internet and it is being done without enough proof of who is violating the copyrights of moviemakers. If these protests create awareness about the larger issues and developments in the areas of e-governance, IT Act and copyright law, then they could be helpful.” — Pranesh Prakash.
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:
Telecom Knowledge Repository
Ford Foundation has given CIS a grant of USD 200,000 to build expertise in the area of Telecommunications in India over a period of two years. The programme outline, the modules covered and the profiles and bios of our expert reviewers can be found here:
- Unlicensed Spectrum Policy Brief for Government of India (Satya N Gupta, Sunil Abraham and Yelena Gyulkhandanyan): CIS and the Ford Foundation bring you the Unlicensed Spectrum Policy brief for Government of India. The research recommends unlicensed spectrum to the Government of India based on recent developments in wireless technology, community needs and international best practices. (The present report is an updated version of the draft circulated earlier).
Column in Business Standard
- Growth, India's Highest Priority (Shyam Ponappa, Business Standard, June 8, 2012): Telecom and spectrum reforms are overdue, as are energy reforms addressing the fuel supply-power generation and distribution-sustainable tariffs chain. In terms of sequence, the next significant effort could focus on the… telecom sector. The empowered group of ministers can decisively abandon short-term government revenues in favour of user benefits, leading in time to even more government revenues.
New Blog Entry
- National Telecom Policy 2012 — Issues and Concerns by Snehashish Ghosh: The author throws light on some of the issues and concerns surrounding the recently passed National Telecom Policy 2012.
- 3rd IJLT-CIS Lecture Series (National Law School of India University, Nagarbhavi, Bangalore, May 27, 2012): Prof. Rohan Samarajiva, Chairman and CEO, LIRNEasia gave the inaugural lecture on “Tariff Regulation in South Asia”. The presentation slides can be accessed here.
Foreign Press Coverage
- India’s telecom success story turns sour (by Simon Denyer, Washington Post, June 1, 2012): “"There are very strong economic reasons for not auctioning spectrum in developing countries.” — Shyam Ponappa.
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 ITU and G3ict, 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 its donors, Ford Foundation, Privacy International, UK, Hans Foundation and the 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.