Centre for Internet & Society

Welcome to the newsletter issue of August 2012 from the Centre for Internet & Society (CIS). The present issue features an analysis of the latest list of sites blocked by the Indian government from August 18, 2012 to August 21, 2012, the India Report for Consumers International IP Watchlist 2012, and press coverage related to the recent North East exodus.

Internet Governance

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:

Special Section on Freedom of Expression

We usually cover Freedom of Expression under Internet Governance. However, in the month of August there has been much discussion regarding the North East exodus from Bangalore and the blocking of a number of websites by the Indian government from August 18 to 21, 2012. This special section covers reportage and original content from CIS:

Featured Research

  • Analysing Latest List of Blocked Sites (Communalism & Rioting Edition) (by Pranesh Prakash): Pranesh Prakash did a preliminary analysis on a leaked list of the websites blocked from August 18, 2012 till August 21, 2012 by the Indian government. There were a total of 309 specific items (those being URLs, Twitter accounts, img tags, blog posts, blogs, and a handful of websites) that were blocked. In this analysis, Pranesh examines why these have been blocked, are the blocks legitimate, are there any egregious mistakes, why the whole list hasn’t been put up, why can one access items that are supposed to be blocked, what should the government have done, etc. The analysis was quoted/cross-posted in the following places: Wall Street Journal (August 25, 2012), The Hindu (August 24, 2012), LiveMint (August 24, 2012), Global Voices (August 24, 2012), Outlook (August 23, 2012), FirstPost.India (August 23, 2012), IBN Live (August 23, 2012), News Click (August 23, 2012), Medianama (August 23, 2012) and KAFILA (August 23, 2012).


  • To regulate Net intermediaries or not is the question (by Sunil Abraham, Deccan Herald, August 26, 2012): “Given the disruption to public order caused by the mass exodus of North-Eastern Indians from several cities, the government has had for the first time in many years, a legitimate case to crackdown on Internet intermediaries and their users.”
  • Social media, SMS are not why NE students left Bangalore (by Nishant Shah, First Post, August 25, 2012): “I woke up one morning to find that I was living in a city of crisis. Bangalore, where the largest public preoccupations to date have been about bad roads, stray dogs, and occasionally, the lack of night-life, the city was suddenly a space that people wanted to flee and occupy simultaneously.”
  • What lurks beneath the Network (by Nishant Shah, Down to Earth, August 24, 2012): “There is a series of buzzwords that have become a naturalised part of discussions around digital social media—participation, collaboration, peer-2-peer, mobilisation, etc. Especially in the post Arab Spring world (and our own home-grown Anna Hazare spectacles), there is this increasing belief in the innate possibilities of social media as providing ways by which the world as we know it shall change for the better. Young people are getting on to the streets and demanding their rights to the future.”
  • Censoring the Internet: A brief manual (by Sunil Abraham, Tehelka, August 23, 2012): “Blocking websites on the Internet should be proportionate to harm they intend. However, the government of India's approach is against the principles of natural justice.”
  • The Perils of 'Hactivism' (by Chinmayi Arun, LiveMint, August 20, 2012): “Civil disobedience includes accepting the penalty for breaking the law. Untraceable hackers are far removed from this ethic.”

Foreign Media Coverage

National Media Coverage


  • FTN: Is it time to regulate social media? (IBN Live, August 21, 2012): Sunil Abraham, Pavan Duggal, A Mukherji and Nikhil Pahwa spoke to CNN-IBN Deputy Editor Sagarika Ghose in Face the Nation episode that was telecasted in IBNLive on August 21, 2012. Sunil said “if one looks at the initial orders that the government sent these intermediaries those were very broad instructions. The order was addressed to all intermediaries under the IT Act.” Watch the full video on IBN Live.
  • Govt vs Tweeple: Has clampdown hit free speech? (NDTV, August 23, 2012): Has the Government crossed the line by ordering the blocking of several Twitter accounts, many belonging to prominent journalists? The debate was featured in NDTV on August 23, 2012. Sunil Abraham spoke to Sonia Singh of NDTV. Sunil said that “we should focus on designing of the censorship regime in the country and the lack of compliance with the principles of natural justice.” Watch the full video on NDTV.
  • Is the govt caught in the 'censorship' web? (NDTV, August 26, 2012): In “We the People” Pranesh Prakash responded to Barkha Dutt’s question on what does a government do in a time of social unrest. See the full debate on NDTV.

Events Organised

Events Participated

Events Hosted

  • Meetup for Bangalore's designers (CIS, Bangalore, August 11, 2012): CIS hosted the meet-up in Bangalore.
  • Visit by students from Hindustan University, Chennai (CIS, Bangalore, August 16, 2012): Sunil Abraham and Elonnai Hickok gave a lecture to students from the Hindustan University.
  • Interface Intimacies (TERI Complex, Bangalore, August 18 – 20, 2012): CIS conducted a research workshop with Audrey Yue and Namita Malhotra.

Upcoming Events

  • Thinking with Data@CIS (CIS, Bangalore, September 16 – 18, 2012): The Thinking with Data course offered at the National Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS) will be screened at CIS, Bangalore. The screening will be followed by online discussions with the faculty through Skype or Google+ Hangouts. Screening starts from September 12.
  • Cartonama Conference (MLR Convention Centre, JP Nagar, Bangalore, September 22, 2012): The Cartonama Conference is centred around geospatial data, mapping and location based services. HasGeek supported by CIS is organising this event.
  • UK DNA Database and the European Court of Human Rights: Lessons that India can Learn from Its Mistakes (Alternative Law Forum, Infantry Road, Shivaji Nagar, Bangalore, September 24, 2012): CIS in collaboration with Alternative Law Forum invites the public to a talk with international experts, Helen Wallace from GeneWatch, UK and Jeremy Gruber from the Council for Responsible Genetics in the United States.


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:

Building Knowledge and Capacity around Telecommunication Policy in India

Ford Foundation has given a grant of USD 2,00,000 to CIS to build expertise in the area of telecommunications in India. The knowledge repository deals with these modules: Introduction to Telecommunications, Telecommunications Infrastructure and Technologies, Government of India Regulatory Framework for Telecom, Telecommunication and the Market, Universal Access and Accessibility, The International Telecommunications Union and other international bodies, Broadcasting, Emerging Topics and Way Forward. Dr. Surendra Pal, Satya N Gupta, Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, Payal Malik, Dr. Rakesh Mehrotra and Dr. Nadeem Akhtar are the expert reviewers.

The following are the new outputs:

  • Auctioning and Allocation of Spectrum (by Snehashish Ghosh): Auction of spectrums was introduced in the telecommunication market after the failure of the administrative process of allocating spectrum. Auctions use a price mechanism to allocate spectrum. Auction of spectrum can be used to increase efficiency and earn maximum revenue.
  • The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India Act, 1997 (by Snehashish Ghosh): The main objective of the TRAI Act was to establish the TRAI and the Telecom Dispute Settlement Appellate Tribunal. Snehashish also touches upon the amendment to the TRAI Act, government control over TRAI, scheme of the TRAI Act, constitution of TRAI, its powers and functions, grounds and procedures for appeal to the tribunal, etc.
  • Broadband Wireless Access – Standards (by Jürgen Kock): Jürgen tells us about the broadband wireless access standards, why we need technical standards, who define BWA standards, WiMAX standards and long term evolution.
  • Mesh Networks (by Ravikiran Annaswamy): Ravikiran tells us the definition of Mesh Networks, its importance, applications and the things to explore in future.
  • National Telecom Policy, 2012 (by Snehashish Ghosh): The National Telecom Policy, 2012 was approved by the Union Cabinet on May 31, 2012. Snehashish tells us about the vision of the National Telecom Policy, 2012, its background, the strategies (broadband rural telephony and universal service obligation fund), licensing, convergence and value-added services, spectrum management, etc.
  • New Telecom Policy, 1999 (by Snehashish Ghosh): The New Telecom Policy, 1999 was formulated on the basis of the report of Group on Telecommunication. In this unit, Snehashish talks about the objectives of the Policy, its targets, the new category of service providers, role of the regulator, other mandates to the Policy, amendment to the New Telecom Policy, 1999, etc.
  • National Telecom Policy, 1994 (by Snehashish Ghosh): The National Telecom Policy, 1994 was formulated for the purpose of opening up the Indian markets for foreign direct investment as well as domestic investment in the telecom sector. Snehashish throws light on the objectives of the National Telecom Policy, 1994, the status of telecom services prior to the implementation of the aforesaid Policy; value added services, hardware and technological aspects, basic services, and outcomes of the National Telecom Policy.

Column in Business Standard

  • Decision Analysis for Interest Rates - II (Shyam Ponappa, Business Standard, August 2, 2012): “India needs to make practical choices that prioritise growth. This is the second column. The previous column was published in the Business Standard on July 5, 2012. It explained how lower interest rates could improve growth by increasing net profits.”

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:

Key Research

  • Consumers International IP Watchlist 2012 — India Report (by Pranesh Prakash): The India Report for Consumers International IP Watchlist 2012 was published on the A2K Network website. According to the report, India's Copyright Act is a relatively balanced instrument that recognises the interests of consumers through its broad private use exception, and by facilitating the compulsory licensing of works that would otherwise be unavailable. However, the compulsory licensing provision have not been utilized so far, because of both a lack of knowledge and more importantly because of the stringent conditions attached to them.

Press Coverage

  • Copyright Law: More Than a Moral Obligation (by Jaya Bhattacharji Rose, Businessworld, August 9, 2012): “So far, things have worked well because sepia-tinted photographs have generally become part of the public domain. But now, only photographs by photographers who died before 1951 are part of the public domain. This has shrivelled up the public domain in photographs since it is even more difficult to trace the photographer...than to estimate the age of a photograph, determining whether a photograph is in the public domain is laden with uncertainty. The use of historical photos in books (and Wikipedia) will be badly affected.”— Pranesh Prakash.


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:

Blog Entry

Digital Natives

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:

Public Talk

  • Decoding Digital Natives (Mudra Institute of Communications, Ahmedabad, August 31, 2012): Nishant Shah gave a public lecture.


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 Hosted

CIS is hiring
CIS is seeking applications from interested candidates for the following posts:

  • Research Manager: CIS is seeking an individual, full-time, for a period of 12 months, beginning from October 2012. The Research Manager is expected to contribute to conceptualising, managing and executing research projects in the field of Internet and Society, build knowledge networks of researchers towards collaborative and open knowledge production and dissemination, developing and executing the monitoring and evaluation processes for humanities and social sciences based research, supporting and managing academic, popular and hybrid publishing projects from existing and new research and initiate innovative and creative areas and methodologies of studying the Internet and its practices in India and the larger Global South, to develop key research clusters and networks. Send in your applications to [email protected].
  • Researcher/Editor (Accessibility): CIS is hiring for the full-time position of a researcher for its accessibility programme. The job will entail working on researching on national and international policies and best practices in the field of accessibility of information and technology for persons with disabilities. To apply, please send your CV and three examples of writing to [email protected]
  • Programme Director – Access to Knowledge: CIS is seeking a Programme Director for its New Delhi office. The Programme Director will manage CIS’s Access to Knowledge programme which is funded by the Wikimedia Foundation, to support the growth of Wikipedia and its sister projects and to advance access to free knowledge in India. The Programme Director will partner with the large Wikimedia community in India to focus on Indic and English languages and will manage a team of four staff members.
  • Programme Officer – Internet Governance: CIS is seeking an individual with a strong background in legal research and policy work to be part of its internet governance (IG) programme. The candidates must have good knowledge of Indian and international law on freedom of expression and privacy, demonstrable research skills, have strong communication skills and be media savvy with the ability to convey complex legal issues clearly to a general audience, open to travel and work independently.

To apply for the posts of Programme Director and Programme Officers, please send your resume to Sunil Abraham ([email protected]) or Pranesh Prakash ([email protected]) with three references.

About CIS

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 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, NIA Bill, etc.

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.

Follow us elsewhere

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.