Centre for Internet & Society

On January 8, 2015, the Centre for Internet and Society, in collaboration with the Observer research foundation, hosted the day long conference "Security, Governments, and Data: Technology and Policy" The conference discussed a range of topics including internet governance, surveillance, privacy, and cyber security.

The full report written and compiled by Lovisha Aggarwal and Nehaa Chaudhari and edited by Elonnai Hickok can be accessed here.

The conference was focused on the technologies, policies, and practices around cyber security and surveillance. The conference reached out to a number of key stakeholders including civil society, industry, law enforcement, government, and academia and explored the present scenario in India to reflect on ways forward. The conference was a part of CIS’s work around privacy and surveillance, supported by Privacy International.

Welcome Address

The welcome address opened with a reference to a document circulated by CIS in 2014 which contained hypothetical scenarios of potential threats to Indian cyber security. This document highlighted the complexity of cyber security and the challenges that governments face in defending their digital borders. When talking about cyber security it is important that certain principles are upheld and security is not pursued only for the sake of security. This approach allows for security to be designed and to support other rights such as the right of access, the right to freedom of expression, and the right to privacy. Indeed, the generation, use, and protection of communications data by the private sector and the government are a predominant theme across the globe today. This cannot be truer for India, as India hosts the third largest population on the internet in the world.

During the welcome, a brief introduction to the Centre for Internet and Society was given. It was noted that CIS is a 6.5 half year old organization that is comprised of lawyers, mathematicians, sociologists, and computer scientists and works across multiple focus areas including accessibility, internet governance, telecom, openness, and access to knowledge. CIS began researching privacy and surveillance in 2010, and has recently begun to expand their research into cyber security. The purpose of this is to understand the relationship between privacy, surveillance, and security and is the beginning of a learning process for CIS. In 2013 CIS undertook a process to attempt to evolve a legal regime to intelligently and adequately deal with privacy in India. Industry specific requirements are key in the Indian context and this process was meant to try and evolve a consensus on what a privacy law in India should look like by bringing together key stakeholders for roundtables. CIS is now in the final stages of preparing individual legal proposals that will be sent to the Government – to hopefully have an informed Privacy Law in India. This event represents CIS’s first attempt to have a simultaneous dialogue on surveillance, cyber security, and privacy. As part of this event and research CIS is trying to understand the technology and market involved in surveillance and cyber security as these are important factors in the development of policy and law.

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