March 2015 Bulletin
Newsletter for the month of March.
We are happy to share with you the third issue of the CIS newsletter (March 2015). The past editions of the newsletter can be accessed at http://cis-india.org/about/newsletters.
- In a landmark judgement upholding the freedom of expression, the Supreme Court of India on March 24, 2015 struck down a provision (Section 66 A of the IT Act) which provided the power to arrest anyone for posting offensive comments online. Geetha Hariharan in her blog post captures the happenings which led to the court ruling.
- CIS in partnership with Privacy International is doing the GSMA project that seeks to understand different legal and regulatory aspects of security and surveillance in India. The research outputs published thus far are now online in a consolidated blog post.
- CIS as part of its RAW programme is inviting abstracts for essays that explore what it means to study Internet(s) in India today.
- CIS is pleased to announce that the Researchers at Work (RAW) programme is supporting a new collaborative publishing project led by T.A.J. Residency / SKE Projects and or-bits.com. The first volume of the series titled 'Silicon Plateau' will feature contributions by a group of well-known artists, researchers, and writers.
- Sumandro Chattapadhyay's paper titled 'Whose Open Data Community is it? Reflections on the Open Data Ecosystem in India' has been accepted for presentation at the Open Data Research Symposium to be held during the 3rd International Open Data Conference in Ottawa, Canada, on May 28-29 2015.
- CIS has been invited to contribute two sections to the Asia Internet History - Third Decade (2001 - 2010) book edited by Dr. Kilnam Chon. The sections will discuss the activities and experiences of civil society organisations in Asia and India, respectively, in national, regional, and global Internet governance processes. Draft outlines of the sections are shared here . Comments and suggestions are invited.
- CIS has prepared an open proposal to the Wikimedia Foundation to support its annual plan with USD 208,603.
- CIS has prepared a draft work plan for the period July 2015 to June 2016 . This work plan consists of 18 programs across 6 verticals.
- On December 24, 2015, Bharti Airtel, one of India's largest telecom players, announced the introduction of a new 'VOIP' usage policy for its mobile users. Tarun Krishnakumar analyses the developments in a blog post.
- In his monthly column published in the Business Standard on March 4, 2015, Shyam Ponappa writes "systems and methods for access through elements that provide connectivity - spectrum, fibre-optic cable, coaxial cable, or "twisted-pairs" for ADSL - must be devised in an integrated manner and made available at low cost.
- NVDA team as part of its project on developing text-to-speech software in 15 Indian languages has published key updates ofBengali and Assamese language testing.
- In the year 2013 Nehaa Chaudhari had worked on a module on IP Rights for UNESCO's Open Access Curriculum. The module was published recently and is available under the CC-BY-SA 3.0 IGO license.
- Rohini Lakshané in a blog post chronicles information about big-ticket lawsuits pertaining to mobile technology patents filed in India.
► Vacancies at CIS
CIS is seeking applications for these posts:
- Assistant Project Manager : To assist the Project Manager on all tasks relating to the organization of the Fourth Global Congress on Intellectual Property and the Public Interest, which will take place in New Delhi from December 15-17, 2015.
- Internship : CIS is providing opportunities for students enrolled in graduate programmes to undertake internship at its offices in Bangalore and Delhi. Eligible candidates are welcome to participate in our internship programme.
Accessibility and Inclusion
Under a grant from the Hans Foundation we are doing two projects. The first project is on creating a national resource kit of state-wise laws, policies and programmes on issues relating to persons with disabilities in India. CIS in partnership with CLPR (Centre for Law and Policy Research) compiled the National Compendium of Policies, Programmes and Schemes for Persons with Disabilities (29 states and 6 union territories). The publication has been finalised and is being printed. The draft chapters and the quarterly reports can be accessed on the project page. The second project is on developing text-to-speech software for 15 Indian languages. The progress made so far in the project can be accessed here.
►NVDA and eSpeak
- March 2015 Report (Suman Dogra; March 31, 2015).
Language Testing Reports
- Assamese Language (Nirmita Narasimhan; March 23, 2015).
- Bengali Language (Nirmita Narasimhan; March 24, 2015).
- Report on Training on the Use of eSpeak in Hindi with NVDA (Organized by NVDA team; Dr. Shakuntala Mishra National Rehabilitation University, Lucknow; March 16 - 29, 2015).
Access to Knowledge
As part of the Access to Knowledge programme we are doing two projects. The first one (Pervasive Technologies) under a grant from the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) is for research on the complex interplay between pervasive technologies and intellectual property to support intellectual property norms that encourage the proliferation and development of such technologies as a social good. The second one (Wikipedia) under a grant from the Wikimedia Foundation is for the growth of Indic language communities and projects by designing community collaborations and partnerships that recruit and cultivate new editors and explore innovative approaches to building projects.
As part of the Pervasive Technologies project, Rohini Lakshané has written a blog entry that chronicles information on big-ticket lawsuits pertaining to mobile technology patents filed in India. As part of broader Access to Knowledge work UNESCO published a module on Intellectual Property Rights, Copyright and Alternative to a Strict Copyright Regime.
- Intellectual Property Rights - Open Access for Researchers (Nehaa Chaudhari; March 19, 2015, UNESCO). Nehaa worked on a module on Intellectual Property Rights for United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)'s Open Access Curriculum (Curriculum for Researchers) as part of a project for the Commonwealth Educational Media Centre for Asia. UNESCO published the module this year. Nehaa Chaudhari and Varun Baliga were among the Module preparation team. Nehaa Chaudhari was the writer for Units 1, 2 and 3: Understanding Intellectual Property Rights, Copyright and Alternative to a Strict Copyright Regime.
- Mobile App Developer Series: Terms of Agreement - Part IV (Samantha Cassar; March 23, 2015).
- Compilation of Mobile Phone Patent Litigation Cases in India (Rohini Lakshané; March 15, 2015).
- Interviews with App Developers: Open Source, Community, and Contradictions - Part III (Samantha Cassar; March 24, 2015).
- Interviews with App Developers: Name of the Game - Part IV (Samantha Cassar; March 24, 2015).
Participation in Events
- Conference on Standards Setting Organisations (SSOs) and FRAND (Organized by MHRD Chair on Intellectual Property Rights, Centre for Intellectual Property Rights and Advocacy (CIPRA), National Law School of India University, Bangalore, in association with Intel Technology India Pvt. Ltd.; Bangalore; March 21-22, 2015). Rohini Lakshané participated in this event.
- 4th IPR Researchers Confluence (Organized by Shailesh J. Mehta School of Management, Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, Mumbai and National Institute of Industrial Engineering, Mumbai with support from Ministry of Human Resource Development, New Delhi; March 27 - 28, 2015). Maggie Huang presented intermediary findings of the research entitled "India's Music Copyright Management in the Age of Music Streaming".
- The perils of not protecting intellectual property for new ventures (Evelyn Fok and Shonali Advani; Economic Times; March 20, 2015). Sunil Abraham gave his inputs.
As part of the project grant from the Wikimedia Foundation we have reached out to more than 3500 people across India by organizing more than 100 outreach events and catalysed the release of encyclopaedic and other content under the Creative Commons (CC-BY-3.0) license in four Indian languages (21 books in Telugu, 13 in Odia, 4 volumes of encyclopaedia in Konkani and 6 volumes in Kannada, and 1 book on Odia language history in English).
- Open Proposal for Funding : CIS has prepared an open proposal for funding for about USD 208,603 from the Wikimedia Foundation. CIS is inviting comments on the proposal. CIS is proposing to contribute to the qualitative and quantitative growth of 12 Wikimedia projects across 9 Indian languages and associated communities, in addition to providing need based support to other Indic communities.
- Access to Knowledge Work Plan : CIS has prepared the India Access to Knowledge work plan (July 2015 to June 2016). The work plan consists of 18 programs across 6 verticals. These include eight programs in five language areas, two community strengthening initiatives, five stand-alone Wikimedia projects, creating movement resources, publicity, research and documentation, and general support and service to the movement.
- Train the Trainer Program (CEO Centre; Dodda Gubbi; Bangalore; February 26 - March 1; 2015).
- Hindustani Language: We Are Wikipedia (Syed Muzamiluddin; March 27, 2015).
Participation in Event
- 2nd National Language Conference, Bhubaneswar (Organized by Institute of Odia Studies and Research; Institute of Physics, Bhubaneswar; March 30 - April 2, 2015). Subhashish Panigrahi presented a paper in Odia language in this conference as part of a panel discussion related to Odia language computing.
News and Media Coverage
CIS-A2K team gave its inputs to the following media coverage:
- Train the Trainer (Udayavani; March 2, 2015).
- More articles for Tulu Wikipedia (The Hindu; March 10, 2015).
- GoI body National Mission for Manuscripts has digitised 3 million manuscripts (Sneha Johari; Medianama; March 13, 2015).
- Bangla Wiki turns 10 (Sudeshna Banerjee, Showli Chakraborty and Abhinanda Datta; The Telegraph; March 29, 2015).
- Women's History Month - India (Organized by CIS-A2K and Wikimedia India; India, March 2015). March 8 is International Women's Day, and to celebrate this women in India organized edit-a-thons and meetups to create and expand articles of importance to women in Wikipedia in English and various Indian languages. Online events were organized for these Wikipedias: Bengali , Punjabi , Odia , Marathi , Kannada and Malayalam .
- India backs open source software for e-governance projects (originally published by IDG News Service was mirrored on the website ofCIO and PC World; March 29, 2015). Sunil Abraham gave his inputs.
As part of its research on privacy and free speech, CIS is engaged with two different projects. The first one (under a grant from Privacy International and International Development Research Centre (IDRC)) is on surveillance and freedom of expression (SAFEGUARDS). The second one (under a grant from MacArthur Foundation) is on studying the restrictions placed on freedom of expression online by the Indian government.
►Freedom of Expression
India's Apex Court in a landmark decision struck down section 66A of the IT Act. The judgment provided great relief for advocates of freedom of speech on the Internet. The development attracted lots of media coverage to which CIS gave its inputs:
- Internet censorship will continue in opaque fashion (Sunil Abraham; The Times of India; March 25, 2015).
- Historic day for freedom of speech and expression in India (Vidushi Marda; Bangalore Mirror; March 25, 2015).
- India's Supreme Court Axes Online Censorship Law, But Challenges Remain (Subhashish Panigrahi; Global Voices Online; March 25, 2015).
- Big win for freedom of speech. Really? (Sunil Abraham; Bangalore Mirror; March 29, 2015).
- Three reasons why 66A verdict is momentous (Pranesh Prakash; The Times of India; March 29, 2015).
- What Does Facebook's Transparency Report Tell Us About the Indian Government's Record on Free Expression & Privacy? (Pranesh Prakash; March 17, 2015).
- No more 66A! (Geetha Hariharan; March 24, 2015).
· Requests to ICANN: CIS sent ICANN six requests to ICANN regarding ICANN's expenditure on travels and meetings, granular revenue, cyber-attacks on ICANN, ICANN's implementation of the NETmundial principles, complaints under the Ombudsman process, and information regarding revenues received from gTLD auctions. These were prepared by Geetha Hariharan:DIDP Request #7: Globalisation Advisory Groups and DIDP Request #8: ICANN Organogram.
Participation in Events
- Tech Law Form @ NALSAR (Organized by NALSAR University of Law, Hyderabad; March 7 and 8, 2015). Geetha Hariharan participated as a speaker.
- Roundtable on ICANN Accountability (Organized by Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DeitY), National Internet Exchange of India and Centre for Communication Governance, National Law University, Delhi; March 13, 2015).
CIS in collaboration with Privacy International, UK as part of GSMA project is conducting research to understand different legal and regulatory aspects of security and surveillance in India. The following outputs have been published: Indian Law and the Necessary Proportionate Principles (Elonnai Hickok), Security, Surveillance and Data Sharing Schemes and Bodies in India (Maria Xynou and Elonnai Hickok), Export and Import of Security Technologies in India: QA (Elonnai Hickok), Regulation of CCTV's in India (Elonnai Hickok), Mutual Legal Assistance Treaties (MLATs) and Cross Border Sharing of Information in India (Maria Xynou and Elonnai Hickok), Composition of Service Providers in India (Lovisha Aggarwal), The Surveillance and Security Industry in India - An Analysis of Indian Security Expos (Divij Joshi), An Analysis of News Items and Cases on Surveillance and Digital Evidence in India (Lovisha Aggarwal), Policy Recommendations for Surveillance Law in India and an Analysis of Legal Provisions on Surveillance in India and the Necessary & Proportionate Principles (Maria Xynou), The Surveillance Industry in India (Maria Xynou), and State of Cyber Security and Surveillance in India: A Review of the Legal Landscape (Elonnai Hickok).
- Cybersecurity and the Internet of Things (Organized by US Consulate Chennai, Cyber Security & Privacy Foundation and CIS; Hotel Atria, Palace Road, Bangalore; March 19, 2015).
Participation in Events
- CONNECTing the Dots: Options for Future Action (Organized by UNESCO; March 3 - 4, 2015; Paris). Elonnai Hickok participated in the event.
- Vox Pol Workshop on the Role of Social Media and Internet Companies in Responding to Violent Online Extremism (Organized by VOX-Pol network; March 5-6, 2015).
News & Media Coverage
CIS gave its inputs to the following media coverage:
- Uploaded and blocked, a daylong battle rages on the web over BBC documentary (Kim Arora; The Times of India; March 6, 2015).
- India tops list of content restrictions requests, says Facebook (Neha Alawadhi; Economic Times; March 17, 2015).
- If you thought India is a country where freedom of speech and expression are fundamental rights, think twice! (Business Insider; March 17, 2015).
- Live Chat: Aadhaar: An identity crisis? (Hindu; March 17, 2015).
- Delhi Govt Sets Up WiFi Task Force (Originally published by Press Trust of India; TeleAnalysis; March 18, 2015).
- India's plan to offer citizens digital lockers poses a privacy threat, say experts (Scroll.in; March 19, 2015).
- Internet becomes vernacular with relaunch of e-bhasha (Ankita Lahiri; Governance Now; March 23, 2015).
- Indian Supreme Court Overturns Law Barring 'Offensive Messages' Online (Niharika Mandhana; Wall Street Journal; March 24, 2015).
- Supreme Court Strikes Down Section 66A Of IT Act (Indrani Basu and Betwa Sharma; Huffington Post; March 24, 2015).
- India's section 66A scrapped: Win for free speech (Prasanto K. Roy; BBC; March 24, 2015).
- India's Online Freedom Advocates Hail Court Ruling on Free Speech (Anjana Pasricha; Voice of America; March 24, 2015).
- Live Chat: Win for Free Speech (Hindu; March 24, 2015). Geetha Hariharan participated in the live chat.
- India's Supreme Court strikes down law that led to Facebook arrests (Annie Gowen; Washington Post; March 24, 2015).
- Netizens Rejoice Over SC Ruling to Keep the Net Free (Parina Dhilla; New Indian Express; March 25, 2015).
- 'A safe Internet and a free Internet can co-exist' (Hindu; March 25, 2015).
- India High Court: No Takedown Requests On Social Sites Without Court, Gov't Order (Madhur Singh; Bloomberg BNA; March 25, 2015).
- India's Supreme Court strikes down law that led to arrests over Facebook posts (Annie Gowen; Star.com; March 25, 2015).
- What the experts said on live chat (Hindu; March 25, 2015). Geetha Hariharan was one of the panelists.
- Indian Court Strikes Down Section of Law Punishing Offensive Posts (Nida Najar and Suhasini Raj; NDTV; March 25, 2015).
- IT Leaders, Lawyers Welcome SC Ruling on 66A of the IT Act (Cio.in; March 25, 2015).
- I dare you, I double dare you: Social media celebrates Sec 66A verdict (Vishakha Saxena; Hindustan Times; March 25, 2015).
- Ruling in India shields Web posts (Originally published by Washington Post and mirrored in Boston Globe; March 25, 2015).
- The noose tightens on freedom of speech on the Internet (Gabey Goh; Digital New Asia; March 26, 2015). This was also mirrored in Malaymail Online.
- SECTION 66A: DELETE (Kumar Anshuman; Open Magazine; March 27, 2015).
- SC has set a high threshold for tolerance: Lawrence Liang (Dhamini Ratnam; Livemint; March 28, 2015).
- 66A DEAD. LONG LIVE 66A! (Soni Mishra; The Week; March 28, 2015).
- India's landmark online speech ruling is step toward greater press freedom (Sumit Galhotra; CPJ; March 28, 2015).
- You can still get into trouble for online posts: Digital law experts (Kim Arora; The Times of India; March 30, 2015).
- 'Smack' the Trolls! (Marianne De Nazareth; Citizen; March 31, 2015).
Researchers at Work
The Researchers at Work (RAW) programme is an interdisciplinary research initiative driven by contemporary concerns to understand the reconfigurations of social practices and structures through the Internet and digital media technologies, and vice versa. It is interested in producing local and contextual accounts of interactions, negotiations, and resolutions between the Internet, and socio-material and geo-political processes:
- Call for Essays: Studying Internet in India : CIS is inviting abstracts for essays that explore what it means to study Internet(s) in India today, the many experiences of Internet(s) in India; its histories and archaeologies; how we use it to read, write, create, relate, learn, and share. Please send abstracts (200 words) to [email protected].
- Announcing Silicon Plateau #01 : The RAW programme is supporting a new collaborative publishing project led by T.A.J. Residency / SKE Projects and or-bits.com. The first volume of the series titled 'Silicon Plateau' will feature contributions by a group of artists, researchers, and writers, including IOCOSE, Tara Kelton, Anil Menon, Sunita Prasad, Achal Prabhala and Sreshta Rit Premnath, along with contextual writing and documentation material. Here is an excerpt from the editorial note written by Marialaura Ghidini, the co-editor of the volume.
- Whose Open Data Community is it? - Accepted Abstract (Sumandro Chattapadhyay; March 31, 2015). The paper 'Whose Open Data Community is it? Reflections on the Open Data Ecosystem in India' has been accepted for presentation at the Open Data Research Symposium to be held during the 3rd International Open Data Conference in Ottawa, Canada, on May 28-29 2015.
- Digital Activism in Asia Reader (Organized by CIS; Bangalore; March 6-7, 2015). The project is a collaborative effort of CIS and the Centre for Digital Cultures, Leuphana University, Germany, which aims to bring together local knowledge, debates and conversations around Digital Activism in Asia. The Digital Activism in Asia Reader is expected to be published by the Hybrid Publishing Lab in mid-2015.
- Figures of Learning: The Reader (P.P.Sneha; March 24, 2015).
- Civil Society Organisations and Internet Governance in Asia and India - Section Outlines : CIS has been invited to contribute two sections to the Asia Internet History - Third Decade (2001-2010) book edited by Dr. Kilnam Chon.
CIS is involved in promoting access and accessibility to telecommunications services and resources and has provided inputs to ongoing policy discussions and consultation papers published by TRAI. It has prepared reports on unlicensed spectrum and accessibility of mobile phones for persons with disabilities and also works with the USOF to include funding projects for persons with disabilities in its mandate:
- Railway Takeaways for Digital India (Shyam Ponappa; Business Standard and Organizing India Blogspot; March 4, 2015).
- TRAI-ing Times: The Story So Far (Tarun Krishnakumar; March 19, 2015).
The Centre for Internet and Society is a non-profit research organization that works on policy issues relating to freedom of expression, privacy, accessibility for persons with disabilities, access to knowledge and IPR reform, and openness (including open government, FOSS, open standards, etc.), and engages in academic research on digital natives and digital humanities.
► Follow us elsewhere
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/CISA2K
- Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/cisa2k
- Visit us at: https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/India_Access_To_Knowledge
- E-mail: [email protected]
► Support Us
Please help us defend consumer / citizen rights on the Internet! Write a cheque in favour of 'The Centre for Internet and Society' and mail it to us at No. 194, 2nd 'C' Cross, Domlur, 2nd Stage, Bengaluru - 5600 71.
► Request for Collaboration:
We invite researchers, practitioners, and theoreticians, both organisationally and as individuals, to collaboratively engage with Internet and society and improve our understanding of this new field. To discuss the research collaborations, write to Sunil Abraham, Executive Director, at [email protected] To discuss collaborations on Indic language Wikipedia, write to T. Vishnu Vardhan, Programme Director, A2K, at [email protected].
CIS is grateful to its primary donor the Kusuma Trust founded by Anurag Dikshit and Soma Pujari, philanthropists of Indian origin for its core funding and support for most of its projects. CIS is also grateful to its other donors, Wikimedia Foundation, Ford Foundation, Privacy International, UK, Hans Foundation, MacArthur Foundation, and IDRC for funding its various projects.