Centre for Internet & Society

The newsletter for the month of September 2019.

Highlights for September 2019
  • A book by Amber Sinha titled 'The Networked Public: How Social Media is Changing Democracy' was published by Rupa Publications. The book looks at how networks exert unchecked power in subverting political discourse and polarizing the public in India. Towards that, it investigates the history of misinformation and the biases that make the public susceptible to it, how digital platforms and their governance impacts the public’s behaviour in them, as well as the changing face of political targeting in a data-driven ecosystem.
  • Akriti Bopanna and Gayatri Puthran co-authored a research paper which compares the Manila Principles to Draft of The Information Technology [Intermediary Guidelines(Amendment) Rules], 2018, introduced by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) in December, 2018.
  • Gurshabad Grover and Torsha Sarkar along with Rajashri Seal and Neil Trivedi co-authored a paper that examines the constitutionality of the government prohibition on the broadcast of news against private and community FM channels. The authors also mapped chronologically the history of the development of community and private radio channels in India.
  • Ambika Tandon and Aayush Rathi generated empirical evidence about the CCTV programme well underway in Delhi. The case study was published by Centre for Development Informatics, Global Development Institute, SEED, in the Development Informatics working paper series housed at the University of Manchester.
  • Shruti Trikanand and Amber Sinha published a blog post titled Core Concepts and Processes by which the authors hope to arrive at a shared vocabulary to discuss and critically analyse digital identity systems, both within our team and in engagements with other stakeholders. Pooja Saxena and Akash Sheshadri contributed to the project.
  • The Global Commission on the Stability of Cyberspace released a public consultation process that sought to solicit comments and obtain feedback on the definition of “Stability of Cyberspace”, as developed by the Global Commission on the Stability of Cyberspace (GCSC). CIS gave detailed commentary on the definitions and suggested a new definition of cyber stability.
  • CIS is undertaking a study on digital mediation of domestic and care work in India, as part of and supported by the Feminist Internet Research Network led by the Association for Progressive Communications (APC), funded by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC). The study is exploring the ways in which structural inequalities, such as those of gender and class, are being reproduced or challenged by digital platforms. The project sites are Delhi and Bangalore, where we are conducting interviews with workers, companies, and unions. In Bangalore, we are collaborating with Stree Jagruti Samiti to collect qualitative data from different stakeholders. The outputs of the research will include a report, policy brief, and other communication materials in English, Hindi, and Kannada. This study is being led by Ambika Tandon and Aayush Rathi, along with Sumandro Chattapadhyay.
  • CIS-A2K has put up a call for joining the Free Knowledge movement #Wikipedia #Wikimedia. Are you an individual or do you represent any organisation, institution, groups or enterprises? You can actually help the ‘Free Knowledge’ movement by donating photos, media, content or archives.

CIS and the News

The following articles and research papers were authored by CIS secretariat during the month:

CIS in the News

CIS secretariat was consulted for the following articles published during the month in various publications:

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.


Under a grant from Wikimedia Foundation we are doing a project 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.



Participation in Events

  • FOSSCON India 2019 (Organized by KLS Gogte Institute of Technology; Belgaum; August 29 - 31, 2019). Bhuvana Meenakshi gave a talk on "The revolution of WebXR".
  • DevFest'19 (Organized by Google Developers Groups; Coimbatore; September 14, 2019).
  • React India 2019 (Organized by React India; Goa; September 26 - 28, 2019). Bhuvana Meenakshi was a speaker.

Internet Governance

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. As part of internet governance work we work on policy issues relating to freedom of expression primarily focusing on the Information Technology Act and issues of liability of intermediaries for unlawful speech and simultaneously ensuring that the right to privacy is safeguarded as well.

Freedom of Speech & Expression

Under a grant from the MacArthur Foundation, CIS is doing research on the restrictions placed on freedom of expression online by the Indian government and contribute studies, reports and policy briefs to feed into the ongoing debates at the national as well as international level. As part of the project we bring you the following outputs:

Research Papers



Under a grant from Privacy International and IDRC we are doing a project on surveillance. CIS is researching the history of privacy in India and how it shapes the contemporary debates around technology mediated identity projects like Aadhar. As part of our ongoing research, we bring you the following outputs:


Participation in Events

  • Policy Design Jam (Organized by Whatsapp and ISPP; Qutub Institutional Area, New Delhi; September 16, 2019). Pallavi Bedi, Akash Sheshadri and Anubha Sinha attended the event.
  • Conceptualising India's Digital Policy Vision (Organized by National University of Juridical Sciences; National University of Juridical Sciences; Kolkata; September 18, 2019).
  • All Partners Meeting (Organized by Partnership on AI; London; September 26 - 27, 2019). Elonnai Hickok reprsented CIS as the co-chair for the Labour and Economy Expert Group.

Digital Identity

Omidyar Network is investing in establishment of a three-region research alliance — to be co-led by the Institute for Technology & Society (ITS), Brazil, the Centre for Intellectual Property and Information Technology Law (CIPIT) , Kenya, and CIS. As part of this Alliance, CIS is examining the policy objectives of digital identity projects, how technological policy choices can be thought through to meet the objectives, and how legitimate uses of a digital identity framework may be evaluated.

Featured Research

  • Core Concepts and Processes (Shruti Trikanand and Amber Sinha; September 13, 2019). Research by Shruti Trikanad and Amber Sinha. Conceptualization by Pooja Saxena and Amber Sinha. Illustrations by Akash Sheshadri and Pooja Saxena.

Artificial Intelligence

With origins dating back to the 1950s Artificial Intelligence (AI) is not necessarily new. However, interest in AI has been rekindled over the recent years due to advancements of technology and its applications to real-world scenarios. We conduct research on the existing legal and regulatory parameters:

Participation in Events

  • AI in Healthcare (Organized by Center for Information Technology and Public Policy and International Institute of Information Technology; Bangalore). Radhika Radhakrishnan gave a talk.
  • Responsible AI Workshop (Organized by Facebook; September 17, 2019; New Delhi). Sunil Abraham participated in the meeting.
  • Constitutionalizing Artificial Intelligence (Organized by Constitutional Law Society; National University of Juridical Sciences; Kolkata). Arindrajit Basu delivered a lecture.


The researchers@work programme at CIS produces and supports pioneering and sustained trans-disciplinary research on key thematics at the intersections of internet and society; organise and incubate networks of and fora for researchers and practitioners studying and making internet in India; and contribute to development of critical digital pedagogy, research methodology, and creative practice.


Essays on #List — Selected Abstracts

  • In response to a recent call for essays that social, economic, cultural, political, infrastructural, or aesthetic dimensions of the #List, we received 11 abstracts. Out of these, we have selected 4 pieces to be published as part of a series titled #List on the r@w blog.

Blog Entries


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.

Monthly Blog

About CIS

CIS is a non-profit organisation that undertakes interdisciplinary research on internet and digital technologies from policy and academic perspectives. The areas of focus include digital accessibility for persons with disabilities, access to knowledge, intellectual property rights, openness (including open data, free and open source software, open standards, open access, open educational resources, and open video), internet governance, telecommunication reform, digital privacy, and cyber-security. The academic research at CIS seeks to understand the reconfigurations of social and cultural processes and structures as mediated through the internet and digital media technologies.

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Support CIS:

Please help us defend consumer and 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.

Collaborate with CIS:

We invite researchers, practitioners, artists, and theoreticians, both organisationally and as individuals, to engage with us on topics related internet and society, and improve our collective understanding of this field. To discuss such possibilities, please write to Sunil Abraham, Executive Director, at [email protected] (for policy research), or Sumandro Chattapadhyay, Research Director, at [email protected] (for academic research), with an indication of the form and the content of the collaboration you might be interested in. To discuss collaborations on Indic language Wikipedia projects, write to Tanveer Hasan, Programme Officer, 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.