Centre for Internet & Society

The newsletter presents the work done in the months of June and July 2021.


We are pleased to announce the launch of a seminar series to showcase research around digital rights and technology policy, with a focus on the Global South. The CIS seminar series will be a venue for researchers to share works-in-progress, exchange ideas, identify avenues for collaboration, and curate research. It will also seek to mitigate the impact of Covid-19 on research exchange, and foster collaborations among researchers and academics from diverse geographies. For more details on the first session, on Information Disorders, and to register, click here: [link]

We are also hiring for two full time remote positions:

  • Research Associate: Access to Knowledge Programme: Apply by August 13 [link]
  • Communication Designer: Apply by August 20 [link]

Cybersecurity, Privacy, and Emerging Technology

  1. Following the MCA notification mandating disclosures of crypto currency holdings by companies, Aryan Gupta, in an issue brief, discusses the policy landscape in the United States of America, United Kingdom, and Japan with particular emphasis upon definition, accounting practices, and taxation, with respect to crypto currencies. [link]
  2. We submitted comments in response to the Supreme Court E-committee’s draft vision document of phase III of the E-courts project. Aman Nair, Arinjay Vyas, Pallavi Bedi and Garima Saxena submitted their general comments and recommendations, and comparatively analysed the integration of digital technology into the judiciary in both South Asia and Africa. [link]
  3. Google’s new Privacy Sandbox platform promises to preserve anonymity when serving tailored advertising. But does this new framework help users in any way? Maria Jawed’s analysis reveals that Google’s gambit to reorient the ad-tech ecosystem under the garb of privacy, ultimately ends up undermining it. [link]
  4. Pandemic technology is taking a toll on data privacy, especially in the absence of any legal framework; these tools are being used for purposes beyond managing the pandemic. In an article published in the Deccan Herald, Aman Nair and Pallavi Bedi argue that India’s digital response to the pandemic has stoked concerns that surveillance could pose threats to the privacy of the personal data collected. [link]
  5. In a piece for The Wire, Aman Nair analyses Tether, a lesser known crypto currency that is at the heart of a $3 trillion market. Issued by Tether Limited, Tether forms the foundation for modern day crypto trading and could potentially be one of the biggest schemes in financial history. [link]
  6. India has 500 million internet users — over a third of its total population — making it the country with the second largest number of internet users after China. With this comes several kinds of digital threats that an average digital consumer in India must regularly contend with. Pranav M.B. attempts to identify the existing state of digital safety in India, with a report that maps digital threats in the country. [link]
  7. Since last year, there have been regular questions around the anti-competitive practices of digital platforms. After 46 US states filed an antitrust case against Facebook along with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in December 2020, Kamesh Shekar analyzed these developments in a blog post. [link]
  8. Recently, the Indian government mandated online messaging providers to enable identification of originators of messages on their platforms. In an academic paper for the NUJS Law Review, Gurshabad Grover, Tanaya Rajwade and Divyank Katira conduct a legal and constitutional analysis of this ‘traceability’ requirement, how it can be implemented, and how these methods come with serious costs to usability, security, and privacy. [link]
  9. The National Digital Health Mission: Health Data Management Policy seeks to establish a digital health ecosystem by creating a unique health identity (UHID) for every Indian citizen. Pallavi Bedi points out that hasty implementation of the policy without adequate safeguards not only risks the privacy and security of medical data, but also undermines trust in the system leading to low uptake. [link]
  10. In our comments to the proposed amendments to the Consumer Protection (E-Commerce) Rules, 2020, our analysis focuses on eight points: Definitions and Registration, Compliance, Data Protection and Surveillance, Flash Sales, Unfair Trade Practices, Jurisdictional Issues with Competition Law, Compliance with International Trade Law and Liabilities of Marketplace E-commerce Entities. [link]

Freedom of Expression, Intermediary Liability and Information Disorders

  1. The recent “Infodemic” clearly shows that disinformation costs people’s lives. CIS, and the Global Disinformation Index have published a report that examines the risk of disinformation on digital news platforms in India, creating an index that is intended to serve donors and stakeholders with a neutral assessment of news sites that they can utilise to defund disinformation. [link]
  2. Torsha Sarkar, Gurshabad Grover, Raghav Ahooja, Pallavi Bedi and Divyank Katira examine the legality and constitutionality of the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021, highlighting potential benefits and harms that may arise from the rules, and making recommendations to retain the rules within constitutional bounds, and retain consistency with human rights based approaches to content regulation. [link]
  3. The passage of the Intermediary Liability Rules, 2021, has also formalized the legal requirement for the utilization of automated tools in content moderation. In a blog-post for the KU Leuven’s Centre for IT and IP (CITIP) Blog, Shweta Mohandas and Torsha Sarkar analyze the requirement in light of concerns of freedom of expression of Internet users. [link]
  4. Our comments to the Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill, 2021, authored by Tanvi Apte, Anubha Sinha, and Torsha Sarkar, examine the constitutionality and legality of the Bill and whether the proposed amendments are compatible with established constitutional principles, precedents, previous policy positions and existing law. [link]
  5. Tanvi Apte and Torsha Sarkar, in a submission to the Facebook Oversight Board in Case 2021-008-FB-FBR: Brazil, Health Misinformation and Lockdowns, answer questions set out by the Board which concerned a post made by a Brazilian sub-national health official, and raised questions on health misinformation and enforcement of Facebook's community standards. [link]
  6. In an essay for the Indian Journal of Law and Technology (IJLT), Torsha Sarkar analyzes issues rising out of the recent litigation between Trump and Twitter. Torsha examines intermediary liability issues under American law, and draws parallel for India, in light of the ongoing litigation around the suspension of advocate Sanjay Hegde’s Twitter account. [link]

Copyright & Access to Knowledge

  1. The Indian Parliamentary Standing Committee on Commerce’s report weighs on several aspects of the Indian IPR system and issues of protection and enforcement. In a blog post, Anubha Sinha summarily notes the observations and recommendations of the Committee on the Copyright Act, 1957 which stand to impact access to knowledge. [link]
  2. The 41st edition of the Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR) organized by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) was held from 28 June to 1 July. Anubha Sinha participated in the event as a speaker and delivered statements on the Protection of Broadcasting Organisations [link], and on Limitations and Exceptions [link]. Readers can access the notes from Day 1 [link], Day 2 [link], and Days 3 & 4 [link].
  3. The CIS Access to Knowledge team published a comparative analysis of two prominent Wikimedia initiatives, Wikipedia Asian Month and Project Tiger, to understand prevailing challenges and opportunities, and strategies to address the same. Nitesh Gill in a two-part report outlines the research questions and methods of this study [link], and then presents some of the observations and learnings [link].

Labour and Social Justice

  1. In a flagship report on domestic and care workers on digital platforms, Aayush Rathi and Ambika Tandon argue that digital platforms are complicit in discriminating against workers on the basis of their identities, and that domestic workers continue to remain in precarious positions without any legal recognition or support. This work was jointly authored between the Centre for Internet and Society and the Domestic Workers’ Rights Union. [link]
  2. The ongoing pandemic has raised very valid questions of access and infrastructure in India, especially during a time when the Internet and digital technologies are essential, and in many ways the ‘new normal’. P.P. Sneha and Anasuya Sengupta write in Seminar Magazine, outlining some key challenges in digitalisation and representation of non-dominant/marginalised languages on the Internet, through reflections on two recent projects related to languages and the Internet. [link]
  3. With the onset of the national lockdown on 24th March 2020 in response to the outbreak of COVID-19, the fate of millions of migrant workers was left uncertain. In addition, lack of enumeration and registration of migrant workers became a major obstacle for all state governments and the Central Government to channelize relief and welfare measures. Ankan Barman compiled a report to qualitatively assess health conditions of migrant workers and access to welfare during the first COVID-19 lockdown, in three host-states, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and Haryana. [link]
  4. Between July to November 2019, Indian Federation of App-based Transport Workers (IFAT) and International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) conducted 2,128 surveys across six major cities: Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi NCR, Hyderabad, Jaipur, and Lucknow, to determine the occupational health and safety of app-based transport workers. Findings from the survey have been compiled as a report which reveals the complete absence of social security and protection of workers in a digital platform economy. [link]