[September 2-9] CCG’s Week in Review: Curated News in Information Law and Policy

This week, Delhi International Airport deployed facial recognition on a ‘trial basis’ for 3 months, landline communications were restored in Kashmir as the Government mulls over certification for online video streaming platforms like Netflix and PrimeVideo – presenting this week’s most important developments in law, tech and national security.

Aadhaar

  • [Sep 3] PAN will be issued automatically using Aadhaar for filing returns: CBDT, DD News report.
  • [Sep 3] BJD set to collect Aadhaar numbers of its members in Odisha, Opposition parties slam move, News 18 report; The New Indian Express report; Financial Express report.
  • [Sep 5] Aadhaar is secure, says ex-UIDAI chief, Times of India report.
  • [Sep 5] Passport-like Aadhaar centre opened in Chennai: Online appointment booking starts, Livemint report.
  • [Sep 8] Plans to link Janani Suraksha and Matra Vandan schemes with Aadhaar: CM Yogi Adityanath, Times of India report.

Digital India

  • [Sep 5] Digital media bodies welcome 26% FDI cap, Times of India report.
  • [Sep 6] Automation ‘not  threat’ to India’s IT industry, ET Tech report.
  • [Sep 6] Tech Mahindra to modernise AT&T network systems, Tech Circle report.

Data Protection and Governance

  • [Sep 2] Health data comes under the purview of Data Protection Bill: IAMAI, Inc42 report.
  • [Sep 2] Credit history should not be viewed as sensitive data, say online lenders, Livemint report.
  • [Sep 3] MeitY may come up with policy on regulation of non-personal data, Medianama report.
  • [Sep 3] MeitY to work on a white paper to gain clarity on public data regulations, Inc42 report.
  • [Sep 6] Treating data as commons is more beneficial, says UN report, Medianama report.
  • [Sep 9] Indian Government may allow companies to sell non-personal data of its users, Inc42 report, The Economic Times report.
  • [Sep 9] Tech firms may be compelled to share public data of its users, ET Tech report.

Data Privacy and Breaches

  • [Sep 2] Chinese face-swap app Zao faces backlash over user data protection, KrAsia report; Medianama report.
  • [Sep 2] Study finds Big Data eliminates confidentiality in court judgments, Swiss Info report.
  • [Sep 4] YouTube will pay $170 million to settle claims it violated child privacy laws, CNBC report; FTC Press Release.
  • [Sep 4] Facebook will now let people opt-out of its face recognition feature, Medianama report.
  • [Sep 4] Mental health websites in Europe found sharing user data for ads, Tech Crunch report.
  • [Sep 5] A huge database of Facebook users’ phone numbers found online, Tech Crunch report.
  • [Sep 5] Twitter has temporarily disabled tweet to SMS feature, Medianama report.
  • [Sep 6] Fake apps a trap to track your device and crucial data, ET Tech report.
  • [Sep 6] 419 million Facebook users phone numbers leaked online, ET Tech report; Medianama report
  • [Sep 9] Community social media platform, LocalCircles, highlights data misuse worries, The Economic Times report.

Free Speech

  • [Sep 7] Freedom of expression is not absolute: PCI Chairman, The Hindu report.
  • [Sep 7] Chennai: Another IAS officer resign over ‘freedom of expression’, Deccan Chronicle report.
  • [Sep 8] Justice Deepak Gupta: Law on sedition needs to be toned down if not abolished, The Wire report.

Online Content Regulation

  • [Sep 3] Government plans certification for Netflix, Amazon Prime, Other OTT Platforms, Inc42 report.
  • [Sep 4] Why Justice for Rights went to court, asking for online content to be regulated, Medianama report.
  • [Sep 4] Youtube claims new hate speech policy working, removals up 5x, Medianama report.
  • [Sep 6] MeitY may relax norms on content monitoring for social media firms, ET Tech report; Inc42 report; Entrackr report.

E-Commerce

  • [Sep 4] Offline retailers accuse Amazon and Flipkart of deep discounting, predatory pricing and undercutting, Medianama report; Entrackr report.
  • [Sep 6] Companies rely on digital certification startups to foolproof customer identity, ET Tech report.

Digital Payments and FinTech

  • [Sep 3] A sweeping reset is in the works to bring India in line with fintech’s rise, The Economic Times report.
  • [Sep 3] Insurance and lending companies in agro sector should use drones to reduce credit an insurance risks: DEA’s report on fintech, Medianama report.
  • [Sep 3] Panel recommends regulating fintech startups, RBI extends KYC deadline for e-wallet companies, TechCircle report.
  • [Sep 4] NABARD can use AI and ML to create credit scoring registry: Finance Ministry report on FinTech, Medianama report.
  • [Sep 5] RBI denies action against Paytm Payments bank over PIL allegation, Entrackr report.
  • [Sep 5] UPI entities may face market share cap, ET Tech report.
  • [Sep 6] NBFC license makes fintech startups opt for lending, ET Tech report.
  • [Sep 9] Ease access to credit history: Fintech firms, ET Markets report.

Cryptocurrencies

  • [Sep 1] Facebook hires lobbyists to boost crypto-friendly regulations in Washington, Yahoo Finance report.
  • [Sep 2] US Congress urged to regulate crypto under Bank Secrecy Act, Coin Telegraph report.
  • [Sep 2] Indian exchanges innovate as calls for positive crypto regulation escalate, Bitcoin.com report.
  • [Sep 4] Marshall Islands official explains national crypto with fixed supply, Coin Telegraph report.
  • [Sep 5] Apple thinks cryptocurrency has “long-term potential”, Quartz report.
  • [Sep 5] NSA reportedly developing quantum-resistant ‘crypto’, Coin Desk report.
  • [Sep 6] Crypto stablecoins may face bottleneck, ET Markets report.

Cybersecurity

  • [Sep 3] Google’s Android suffers sustained attacks by anti-Ugihur hackers, Forbes report.
  • [Sep 4] Firefox will not block third-party tracking and cryptomining by default for all users, Medianama report.
  • [Sep 4] Insurance companies are fueling ransomware attacks, Defense One report.
  • [Sep 5] Firms facing shortage of skilled workforce in cybersecurity: Infosys Research, The Economic Times report.
  • [Sep 5] Cybersecurity a boardroom imperative in almost 50% of global firms: Survey, Outlook report; ANI report.
  • [Sep 5] DoD unveils new cybersecurity certification model for contractors, Federal News Network report.
  • [Sep 5] Jigsaw Academy launches cybersecurity certification programme in India, DQ India report.
  • [Sep 6] Indians lead the world as Facebook Big Bug Hunters, ET Tech report.
  • [Sep 6] Australia is getting a new cybersecurity strategy, ZD Net report.
  • [Sep 9] China’s 5G, industrial internet roll-outs to fuel more demand for cybersecurity, South China Morning Post report.

Tech and National Security

  • [Sep 3] Apache copters to be inducted today, The Pioneer report.
  • [Sep 3] How AI will predict Chinese and Russian moves in the Pacific, Defense One report.
  • [Sep 3] US testing autonomous border-patrol drones, Defense One report.
  • [Sep 3] Meet the coalition pushing for ‘Cyber Peace’ rules. Defense One report.
  • [Sep 4] US wargames to try out concepts for fighting China, Russia, defense One report.
  • [Sep 4] Southern Command hosts seminar on security challenges, Times of India report; The Indian Express report
  • [Sep 4] Russia, already India’s biggest arms supplier, in line for more, Business Standard report.
  • [Sep 4] Pentagon, NSA prepare to train AI-powered cyber defenses, Defense One report.
  •  [Sep 5] Cabinet clears procurement of Akash missile system at Rs. 5500 crore, Times Now report.
  • [Sep 5] India to go ahead with $3.1 billion US del for maritime patrol aircraft, The Economic Times report.
  • [Sep 5] DGCA certifies ‘small’ category drone for complying with ‘No-Permission, No-Takeoff’ protocol, Medianama report.
  • [Sep 5] India has never been aggressor but will not hesitate in using its strength to defend itseld: Rajnath Singh, The Economic Times report.
  • [Sep 5] Panel reviewing procurement policy framework to come out with new versions of DPP, DPM by March 2020, The Economic Times report; Business Standard report; Deccan Herald report.
  • [Sep 5] Russia proposes joint development of submarines with India, The Hindu report.
  • [Sep 7] Proud of you: India tells ISRO after contact lost with CHandrayaan-2 lander, India Today report.

Tech and Elections

  • [Sep 4] ECI asks social media firms to follow voluntary code of ethics ahead of state polls: report, Medianama report.
  • [Sep 6] Congress party to reorganise its data analytics department, Medianama report.
  • [Sep 5] Why the 2020 campaigns are still soft targets for hackers, Defense One report.
  • [Sep 5] Facebook meets with FBI to discuss election security, Bloomberg report.
  • [Sep 5] Facebook is making its own AI deepfakes to head off a disinformation disaster, MIT Tech Review report.

Internal Security: J&K

  • [Sep 4] Long convoy, intel failure: Multiple lapses led to Pulwama terror attack, finds CRPF inquiry, India Today report; Kashmir Media Service report; The Wire report.
  • [Sep 4] Extension of President’s Rule in Kashmir was not delayed, MHA says in report to SC lawyer’s article, Scroll.in report.
  • [Sep 6] Landline communication restored in Kashmir Valley: Report, Medianama report.
  • [Sep 7] Kashmir’s Shia areas face curbs, all Muharram processions banned, The Quint report.
  • [Sep 7] No question of army atrocities in Kashmir as it’s only fighting terrorists: NSA Ajit Doval, India Today report.
  • [Sep 8] More than 200 militants trying to cross into Kashmir from Pakistan: Ajit Doval, Money Control report.
  • [Sep 8] ‘Such unilateral actions are futile’, says India after Pakistan blocks airspace for President Kovind, Scroll.in report; NDTV report.

Internal Security: NRC

  • [Sep 2] Contradictory voices in Assam Congress son NRC: Tarun Gogoi slams it as waste paper, party MP says historic document, India Today report.
  • [Sep 3] Why Amit Shah is silent on NRC, India Today report.
  • [Sep 7] AFSPA extended for 6 months in Assam, Deccan Herald report.
  • [Sep 7] At RSS mega meet, concerns over Hindus being left out of NRC: Sources, Financial Express report.

National Security Institutions and Legislation

  • [Sep 5] Azhar, Saeed, Dawood declared terrorists under UAPA law, Deccan Herald report; The Economic Times report.
  • [Sep 8] Home Minister says India’s national security apparatus more robust than ever, Livemint report.
  • [Sep 8] Financial safety not national security reason for women to join BSF: Study, India Today report.

Telecom/5G

  • [Sep 6] Security is an issue in 5G: NCSC Pant on Huawei, Times of India report.

More on Huawei

  • [Sep 1] Huawei believes banning it from 5G will make countries insecure, ZD Net report.
  • [Sep 2] Huawei upbeat on AI strategy for India, no word on 5G roll-out plans yet, Business Standard report.
  • [Sep 3] Huawei denies US allegations of technology theft, NDTV Gadgets 260 report; Business Insider report; The Economic Times report.
  • [Sep 3] Shocking Huawei ‘Extortion and Cyberattack’ allegations in new US legal fight, Forbes report; Livemint report, BBC News report; The Verge report
  • [Sep 3] Committed to providing the most advanced products: Huawei, ET Telecom report.
  • [Sep 4] Huawei says 5G rollout in India will be delayed by 3 years if it’s banned, Livemint report
  • [Sep 4] Trump not interested in talking Huawei with China, Tech Circle report.
  • [Sep 5] Nepal’s only billionaire enlists Huawei to transform country’s elections, Financial Times report.
  • [Sep 8] Trump gets shocking new Huawei warning – from Microsoft, Forbes report.

Emerging Tech

  • [Aug 30] Facebook is building an AI Assistant Inside Minecraft, Forbes report.
  • [Sep 3] AWS partners with IIT KGP for much needed push to India’s AI skilling, Inc42 report.
  • [Sep 3] Behind the Rise of China’s facial recognition giants, Wired report.
  • [Sep 4] Facebook won’t use facial recognition on you unless you tell it to, Quartz report.
  • [Sep 4] An AI app that turns you into a movie star has risked the privacy of millions, MIT Technology Review report.
  • [Sep 6] Police use f facial recognition is accepted by British Court, The New York Times report.
  • [Sep 6] Facebook, Microsoft announce challenge to detect deepfakes, Medianama report.
  • [Sep 6] Facial recognition tech to debut at Delhi airport’s T3 terminal; on ‘trial basis’ for next three months, Medianama report.

Internet Shutdowns

  • [Sep 3] After more than 10 weeks, internet services in towns of Rakhine and Chin restored, Medianama report.
  • [Sep 4] Bangladesh bans mobile phone services in Rohingya camps, Medianama report.

Opinions and Analyses

  • [Sep 2] Michael J Casey, Coin Desk, A crypto fix for a broken international monetary system.
  • [Sep 2] Yengkhom Jilangamba, News18 Opinion, Not a solution to immigration problem, NRC final list has only brought to surface fault lines within society.
  • [Sep 2] Samuel Bendett, Defense One, What Russian Chatbots Think About Us.
  • [Sep 2] Shivani Singh, Hindustan Times, India’s no first use policy is a legacy that must be preserved.
  • [Sep 3] Abir Roy, Financial Express, Why a comprehensive law is needed for data protection. 
  • [Sep 3] Dhirendra Kumar, The Economic Times, Aadhaar is back for mutual fund investments.
  • [Sep 3] Ashley Feng, Defense One, Welcome to the new phase of US-China tech competition.
  • [Sep 3] Nesrine Malik, The Guardian, The myth of the free speech crisis.
  • [Sep 3] Tom Wheeler and David Simpson, Brookings Institution, Why 5G requires new approaches to cybersecurity.
  • [Sep 3] Karen Roby, Tech Republic, Why cybersecurity is a big problem for small businesses.
  • [Sep 4] Wendy McElroy, Bitcoin.com, Crypto needs less regulation, not more.
  • [Sep 4] Natascha Gerlack and Elisabeth Macher, Modaq.com, US CLOUD Act’s potential impact on the GDPR. 
  • [Sep 4] Peter Kafka, Vox, The US Government isn’t ready to regulate the internet. Today’s Google fine shows why.
  • [Sep 5] Murtaza Bhatia, Firstpost, Effective cybersecurity can help in accelerating business transformation. 
  • [Sep 5] MG Devasahayam, The Tribune, Looking into human rights violations by Army.
  • [Sep 5] James Hadley, Forbes, Cybersecurity Frameworks: Not just for bits and bytes, but flesh and blood too.
  • [Sep 5] MR Subramani, Swarajya Magazine, Question at heart of TN’s ‘WhatsApp traceability case’: Are you endangering national security if you don’t link your social media account with Aadhaar? 
  • [ Sep 5] Justin Sherman, Wired, Cold War Analogies are Warping Tech Policy.
  • [Sep 6] Nishtha Gautam, The Quint, Peer pressure, militant threats enforcing civil curfew in Kashmir?
  • [Sep 6] Harsh V Pant and Kartik Bommakanti, Foreign Policy, Modi reimagines the Indian military.
  • [Sep 6] Shuman Rana, Business Standard, Free speech in the crosshairs.
  • [Sep 6] David Gokhshtein, Forbes, Thoughts on American Crypto Regulation: Considering the Pros and Cons.
  • [Sep 6] Krishan Pratap Singh, NDTV Opinion, How to read Modi Government’s stand on Kashmir.
  • [Sep 7] MK Bhadrakumar, Mainstream Weekly, The Big Five on Kashmir.
  • [Sep 7] Greg Ness, Security Boulevard, The Digital Cyber Security Paradox.
  • [Sep 8] Lt. Gen. DS Hoods, Times of India, Here’s how to take forward the national security strategy.
  • [Sep 8] Smita Aggarwal, Livemint, India’s unique public digital platforms to further inclusion, empowerment. 

Advertisements

CCG’s Week in Review: Curated News in Information Law and Policy [August 26-September 2]

MeitY sought views on ‘non-personal data’; India and France announce joint research consortium on AI and digital partnership after NSA-level talks; Section 144 CrPC imposed in areas of Assam anticipating unrest after the publication of the NRC list as the MHA holds a high-level security meet on Kashmir; and the tussle between MeitY and the Niti Aayog for control over the Rs. 7000 cr AI project continues – presenting this week’s most important developments at the intersection of law and tech.

Aadhaar

  • [Aug 27] Aadhaar integration can weed out fake voters: UIDAI’s Ajay Bhushan Pandey, Business Standard report.
  • [Aug 27] Government to intensify Aadhaar enrolment in J&K after Oct 31: Report, Medianama report; Times Now report; The Quint report
  • [Aug 27] Interview: Why I filed a case to link Aadhaar and Social Media Accounts, The Quint report.
  • [Aug 27] Aadhaar database cannot be hacked even after a billion attempts: Ravi shankar Prasad, Money Control report.
  • [Aug 27] Most dangerous situation: Justice Srikrishna on EC-Aadhaar linking, The Quint report.
  • [Aug 28] Aadhaar ads to women’s problems in India. Here’s why. The Wire report.
  • [Aug 28] What Centre will tell Supreme Court on Aadhaar and social media account linkage, The Hindustan Time report.
  • [Aug 28] All residents of an MP village have the same date of birth on their Aadhaar, Business Standard report.
  • [Aug 29] Blood banks advised to ask for donors’ Aadhaar cards, Times of India report.
  • [Aug 29] Aadhaar continues to evolve and grow as India issues biometric seafarers’ ID, Biometric Update report.
  • [Aug 31] Aadhaar mandatory for farmers to avail crop loan in Odisha, Odisha Sun Times report.
  • [Sep 1] NRIs to get Aadhaar sans 180-day wait in 3 months, The Hindu report.
  • [Sep 1] Aadhaar-liquor link to check bottle littering? Deccan Herald report.
  • [Sep 1] Linking Aadhaar with social media can lead to insidious profiling of people, says Apar Gupta, Times of India report.

Digital India

  • [Aug 27] NASSCOM-DSCI on National Health Stack: separate regulatory body for health, siloed registries, usage of single ID, Medianama report.
  • [Aug 27] Govt looks to develop electronics component manufacturing base in India: MeitY Secretary, YourStory report; Money Control report.
  • [Aug 30] India is encouraging foreign firms to shift biz from China: report, Medianama report; Reuters report.
  • [Aug 30] Wipro, Google to speed up digital shift of enterprises, ET Telecom report.
  • [Aug 30] Government committed to reach public via technology, Times of India report.
  • [Aug 31] MeitY and Google tie up to Build for Digital India, Livemint report; India TV report; ANI report; The Statesman report; Inc42 report.
  • [Sep 1] Govt is setting up high-tech R&D facilities for India Inc to encourage big-bang projects, ET Tech report.
  • [Sep 1] Digitalisation is now forcing NASSCOM to reinvent itself, ET Tech report.

Free Speech

  • [Aug 26] IAS Officer who quit over ‘losing freedom of expression’ was facing disciplinary action for misconduct, Swarajya Magazine report.
  • [Aug 27] Withdraw media curbs in Kashmir, The Hindu report.
  • [Aug 27] EU data caught in Facebook audio transcribing, Politico report.
  • [Aug 30] BJP issues gag order on Pragya Thakur after ‘black magic’ remark post Arun Jaitley’s death. News 18 report.
  • [Aug 31] Chargesheet filed against ex-Union Minister Salman Khurshid over remark in UP CM Yogi Adityanath, India Today report.
  • [Aug 31] Rafale deal: Rahul Gandhi summoned by Mumbai court for calling Narendra Modi ‘commander-in-thief’, Scroll.in report.
  • [Aug 31] Media freedom being curbed, says Mamata, The Hindu report.
  • [Sep 1] Madurai man booked for Facebook post against Centre, Army, Times of India report.

Internet Shutdowns

  • [Aug 26] Internet suspended in Indonesia’s Papua region for ‘ security and order’ amid protests, Medianama report.
  • [Aug 29] Months after pledge to open internet, Ethiopia disrupts connectivity amidst communal violence, Global Voices report.

Data Protection and Privacy

  • [Aug 27] Government’s approach to data is dangerous, says Justice Srikrishna, Medianama report.
  • [Aug 27] Microsoft’s lead EU data watchdog is looking into fresh Windows 10 privacy concerns, Tech Crunch report.
  • [Aug 30] This Week in Tech: Facebook’s privacy pivot (business model not included), The New York Times report.
  • [Aug 31] MeitY seeks views on non-personal data, ET Tech report.
  • [Aug 31] Google to pay out $150-200m over YouTube privacy claims: reports, The Hindu report.
  • [Sep 2] Let data protection Bill deal with personal health data, says IAMAI, Business Standard report.

Intermediary Liability

  • [Aug 27] Government notices and issue in TikTok’s ShareChat notices: To ask TikTok how its intermediary status is consistent with claims on owning content, ET Telecom report; Inc42 report.

E-Commerce

  • [Aug 27] Thailand to tax e-commerce companies from next year, Medianama report.
  • [Aug 27] NRAI sends notices to Swiggy, Zomato, others on deep discounting, lack of transparency, Tech Circle report.
  • [Aug 29] MeitY may not include E-commerce data in privacy bill, The Economic Times report; Medianama report; Inc42 report.
  • [Aug 29] 30% local sourcing FDI rule on single brand retailers relaxed, physical stores before online sales not necessary, Medianama report.
  • [Aug 29] Amazon moves Supreme Court against direct selling companies: Report, Medianama report; The Economic Times report.
  • [Aug 30] India big enough for both e-commerce and small retailers: Rajiv umar, ET Tech report.
  • [Aug 30] Zomato, Swiggy and NRAI discuss issues, to meet again in September, Medianama report.
  • [Aug 30] DPIIT asks e-commerce firms to upload FDI compliance certifications, Medianama report.
  • [Aug 31] Why restaurants and aggregators are locking horns over discounts, ET Tech report.
  • [Aug 31] CAIT slams Amazon in public discussion over deep discounting, Entrackr report.
  • [Aug 31] E-marketplaces giving preferential treatment to come: Sellers, ET Tech report.
  • [Sep 2] Swiggy likely to cap restaurant commissions at 25%, ET Tech report.

Digital Payments and FinTech

  • [Aug 30] Another extension for e-wallets: RBI gives 6 months to complete KYC, Entrackr report.
  • [Sep 2] Banks may take 3 years for tech merger, ET Tech report.

Cryptocurrencies

  • [Aug 25] IRS sends new round of letter to Bitcoin and Crypto holders, Coin Telegraph report.
  • [Aug 26] 25]year old Bitcoin seller faces life sentence for unlicensed exchange, Coin Desk report.
  • [Aug 26] Telegram’s 300 million users could soon be trading Bitcoin and Crypto- Despite serious security warning, Forbes report.
  • [Aug 28] Crypto-jacking virus infects 850,000 serves, hackers run off with millions, Coin Desk report.
  • [Aug 30] UN Official: Crypto makes policing child trafficking ‘exceptionally difficult’, Coin Desk report.
  • [Aug 30] How do we get crypto currency to circulate as money? This experiment might hold the answer, The Print report.
  • [Aug 30] Privacy in Crypto: The Impact of Rising Terrorism Concerns, Forbes report.
  • [Aug 28] Telegram to release its cryptocurrency by October 31, Medianama report; ET Markets report.

Tech and Law Enforcement

  • [Aug 26] End-to-end encryption not essential to WhatsApp as a platform: Tamil Nadu Advocate General, Medianama report.
  • [Aug 27] WhatsApp traceability vulnerable to falsification, claims IFF expert submission, Firstpost report; Medianama report.
  • [Aug 31] A new kind of cybercrimes uses AI and your voice against you, Quartz report.

Tech and National Security

  • [Aug 26] Russia to supply critical components of Gaganyaan, Free Press Journal report.
  • [Aug 26] CAG report on offset deal in Rafale contract to be tabled in Winter Session: Report, News Nation report.
  • [Aug 27] Gaganyaan Mission: Russia to train four Indian astronauts from November, DNA India report.
  • [Aug 27] Centre inks Rs 380 cr deal with private firm for nine precision approach radars, DNA India report.
  • [Aug 27] Navy needs “assured” budget support to build capacity: CHief, The Economic Times report; The Indian Express report; Outlook India report.
  • [Aug 27] ITI Nagpur students to learn to assemble Rafale jets, The Economic Times report.
  • [Aug 27] Incentivise pvt sector for defence production: Brookings, Outlook India report.
  • [Aug 28] Amazon and Microsoft unchallenged in $10bn ‘Jedi’ contract review, Financial Times report.
  • [Aug 28] India’s HAL deepens private sector engagement through Make-II initiative, Jane’s 360 report.
  • [Aug 29] NSA-level meet today, France keen to sell second batch of 36 Rafales, The Indian Express report; Financial Express report; ANI News report.
  • [Aug 30] Russia set to offer submarines during Modi-Putin summit, Defence Aviation Post report.
  • [Aug 30] India must be prepared to face any threat: Vice President Venkaiah Naidu, The New Indian Express report.
  • [Aug 31] US to use fake social media to check on people entering the country, India Today report.

Cybersecurity

  • [Aug 26] Ransomware threat raises National Guard’s role in state cybersecurity in the United States, Statescoop report.
  • [Aug 26] The Pentagon wants to bolster Defense Innovation Unit’s Cyber defenses, Nextgov report.
  • [Aug 27] The importance of training: Cybersecurity awareness as a firewall, Forbes report.
  • [Aug 28] Why cybersecurity is a central ingredient in evolving digital business models, Financial Express report.
  • [Aug 28] Cyber security and the finance sector: the need for stronger data protection capabilities, Security Boulevard report.
  • [Aug 28] India to unveil cybersecurity strategy policy early next year, Financial Express report; Inc42 report.
  • [Aug 28] Face it – Biometrics to be big in cybersecurity, Forbes report.
  • [Aug 28] MHA has taken various measures to counter cyber threat: MoS Kishan Reddy, United News of India report.
  • [Aug 30] Google says hackers have put ‘monitoring implants’ in iPhones for years, The Guardian report; DW report.
  • [Aug 30] Employee errors responsible for half of cybersecurity incidents: report, The Hindustan Times report.
  • [Aug 30] Despite changes by Microsoft, Windows 10 might still be remotely spying on you, Digital Trends report.
  • [Aug 30] Only 5-10% pharma firms have cybersecurity: Expert, Times of India report.

Internal Security: J&K

  • [Aug 27] Kashmir updates: UN Chief urges all parties to avoid escalation, India Today report.
  • [Aug 27] Kashmir: MHA to hold high level security meet; SC will hear Faesal and Shehla Rashid, The Week report.
  • [Aug 29] There is only fear and no ‘freedom’ in the Northeast and J&K, The Wire report.
  • [Aug 29] ‘Feel unsafe at home’: J&K residents accuse security forces of raiding houses, arresting ‘innocent’ Kashmiri youth under Public Safety Act, Firstpost report.
  • [Aug 30] Jammu and Kashmir: Rumours fly thick but slow in absence of communication, The Economic Times report.
  • [Aug 30] Army Chief to review security in J&K today, his first visit after Art 370 repeal, The Hindustan Times report.
  • [Aug 31] Mobile services restored partially in Kashmir’s Kupwara district, ET Telecom report.

Internal Security: North East and the NRC

  • [Aug 29] Security measures tightened in Assam, Sec 144 CrPC in Guwahati ahead of final NRC, India Today report.
  • [Aug 30] Assam police declare 14 districts as sensitive areas, Times of India report.
  • [Aug 30] How the National Citizenship Registration in Assam is shaping a new national identity in India, The Conversation report.
  • [Aug 30] NRC not to solve foreigner problem: Himanta Biswa Sarma, Deccan herald report.
  • [Aug 31] No Aadhaar from elsewhere for those excluded from NRC, ET Tech report.
  • [Aug 31] Assam on edge a day before publication of NRC, India Today report.
  • [Sep 1] Assam BJP, Opposition unhappy with updated NRC, India Today report.
  • [Sep 1] Assam NRC final list: Centre in no hurry for follow-up, The Hindu report.
  • [Sep 1] Happy to know how many are doubtful citizens, says AIUDF, The Telegraph report.
  • [Sep 1] Indian citizens register excludes 1.9m Assam residents, Financial Times report.

Telecom/5G

  • [Aug 26] India will not compromise on security of telecom networks: Dhotre, ET Telecom report.
  • [Aug 27] 5G spectrum sale may be deferred to early 2020, ET Telecom report.
  • [Aug 27] Govt invites bids to select agency for conducting spectrum auction, ET Telecom report.
  • [Aug 28] Reliance Jio records highest telecom revenue market share in Q1FY20, Medianama report.
  • [Aug 31] Govt focusing on improved telecom connectivity in NE, ET Telecom report.
  • [Aug 28] 3G network to shut by December, 5G adoption not expected, Phonepe, Paytm and more, Medianama report.

More on Huawei

  • [Aug 26] 5G trials: China aggression will work against Huawei, say India officials, India Express report.
  • [Aug 27] New Huawei OS Shock: ‘Confirmation’ of Russian Software for mobile devices, Forbes report; Reuters report.
  • [Aug 27] Huawei: UK to make 5G decision ‘by the autumn’, BBC News report.
  • [Aug 29] Huawei’s next flagship phone blocked from using Google apps, The Guardian report.
  • [Aug 30] Huawei under probe by US prosecutors over new allegations, ET Telecom report; Business Standard report.
  • [Sep 1] Huawei just launched 5G in Russia with Putin’s Support: ‘Hello Splinternet’, Forbes report.

Emerging Tech and AI

  • [Aug 27] Niti Aayog, MeitY spar over Rs. 7,000 crore AI mission, ET Telecom report; Inc42 report; Entrackr report.
  • [Aug 27] India, France announce joint research consortium on AI and a digital partnership, Medianama report.
  • [Aug 28] Elon Musk and Jack Ma debate AI at China Summit, Bloomberg report.
  • [Aug 28] Is this Aadhaar of the future? Facial biometric technology-based chip-enabled cards issues, The Economic Times report.
  • [Aug 28] National security imperative to become $5trillion economy: Amit Shah, Livemint report; The Asian Age report.
  • [Aug 29] Swedish school fined over use of facial recognition, Lexology report.

Big Tech

  • [Aug 26] India is important, that’s why bringing hardware devices here: Google, ET Telecom report.
  • [Aug 26] Facebook wins appeal against German Data-Collection ban, The Wall Street Journal report.
  • [Aug 26] Instagram’s latest assault on Snapchat is a messaging app called Threads, The Verge report.
  • [Aug 28] Google is moving Pixel production from China to an old Nokia factory in Vietnam, The Verge report.
  • [Aug 30] Google expands scope of its bug bounty programme, unveils data protection reward programme for developers, NDTV Gadgets 360 report.

Opinions and Analyses

  • [Aug 25] Jon Evans, Tech Crunch, Crypto means Cryptotheology.
  • [Aug 26] Guest Author, Medianama, Should Indian Copyright law prevent text and data mining?
  • [Aug 26] Vishal Chawla, Analytics India Magazine, Why IoT security standards are crucial in preventing hackers from stealing your data.
  • [Aug 26] The Hindu Editorial, ON the wrong side: On PCI backing Kashmir restrictions.
  • [Aug 26] Robert S Taylor, Lawfare, How to measure Cybersecurity.
  • [Aug 26] Mike Giglio, Defense One, China’s Spies Are on the Offensive. Can the US Fend Them Off?
  • [Aug 27] Gurshabad Grover, The Hindu, A judicial overreach into matters of regulation.
  • [Aug 27] Maj Gen Harsha Kakkar, Bharat Shakti, Foreign Policy and National Security.
  • [Aug 27] A Vinod Kumar, Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, ‘No First Use’ is Not Sacrosanct: Need a Theatre-Specific Posture for Flexible Options.
  • [Aug 27] Jack Cable, Harvard Business Review, Every computer science degree should require a course in cybersecurity.
  • [Aug 27] Rahul Singh, The Hindustan Times, Key decisions underline govt’s focus on building stronger military.
  • [Aug 27] The Economic Times Opinion, Aadhaar linkage with social media is troublesome.
  • [Aug 28] Vikram Koppikar, Money Control, Aadhaar and Social Media: It’s a delicate balance between security and privacy. 
  • [Aug 28] Abhijit Singh. The Hindu, The CHief of Defence Staff needs an enabling institutional infrastructure.
  • [Aug 28] Samantha Ravish, Defense One, The US must prepare for a Cyber ‘Day After’.
  • [Aug 28] Mike Masnick, Tech Dirt, Protocols, not platformsL A technological approach to free speech.
  • [Aug 29] Dhruva Jaishankar, The Hindustan Times, The saga of India’s indigenous defence production.
  • [Aug 29] The Print, Does War & Peace taunt show how poorly equipped India judges are to handle security cases?
  • [Aug 30] Rohan Seth, The Asian Age, Wider debate needed on major changes in data protection law.
  • [Aug 30] Amit Cowshish, Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, CDS: A pragmatic blueprint required for implementation.
  • [Aug 30] Crystal Lee and Jonathan Zong, Slate, Consent is not an ethical rubber stamp.
  • [Aug 30] Gopal Krishna, Business Today, Why the promised right to privacy and data protection law hasn’t been enacted yet. 
  • [Aug 31] Bidanda Chengappa, Deccan Herald, Peacetime spying is legitimate.
  • [Aug 31] Sandipan Deb, Livemint, When social media monopolies prey on freedom of expression.

[July 8-15] CCG’s Week in Review: Curated News in Information Law and Policy

The Parliament passed the Aadhaar Amendment Bill, expected to have a far-reaching impact on data sharing with private companies and State Governments; France rolled out a new “digital tax” for Big Tech, Facebook slapped with a massive $5bn fine by the US FTC, while uncertainty over Huawei’s inclusion in India’s 5G trials deepens  — presenting this week’s most important developments in law and tech.

In focus this week: opinions and analyses of the Defence Budget for 2019-20.

Aadhaar

  • [July 8] Parliament passes Aadhaar amendment bill, The Hindu Business Line report.
  • [July 8] RS clears bill on voluntary use of Aadhaar as ID proof, Live Mint report.
  • [July 8] Techie moves Madras High Court assailing compulsory linking of Aadhaar with Universal Account Number (UAN) to avail EPFO pension, The Economic Times report.
  • [July 9] You are not bound to share Aadhaar data with schools, banks and telcos, DNA India report.
  • [July 9] ‘Ordinance on Aadhaar use doesn’t survive as House has cleared the Bill’: Centre tells SC, The Hindu report.
  • [July 10] Aadhaar Bill passage in Parliament: New clause helps secure non-NDA votes, The Economic Times report.
  • [July 11] PAN not linked to Aadhaar will become invalid from September, Business Standard report.
  • [July 11] Aadhaar amendments: New clause to allow use of Aadhaar data for state schemes, Live Mint report.
  • [July 11] Amendment: no Aadhaar for mobile wallet firms, The Economic Times report.
  • [July 11] All your Aadhaar fears are coming true in Assam, HuffPost India report.
  • [July 13] Rajya Sabha passes Aadhaar amendment Bill, allows to file complaint in case of security breach, India Today report.
  • [July 14] You may soon have to pay Rs. 10,000 as fine for entering wrong Aadhaar number for transactions, New 18 report.

Free Speech

  • [July 9] Twitter backs off broad limits on ‘Dehumanizing Speech’, The New York Times report.
  • [July 10] TikTok influencers charged for hate speech and attempting to incite communal violence, Business Insider report.
  • [July 13] White House Social Media recap, National Public Radio report, CNN report, The New York Times report, Engadget report. The Verge report.
  • [July 13] FIRs against 10 for poems that try to ‘hinder NRC’ in Assam, Times of India report.
  • [July 15] RSS wing calls for TikTok, Helo ban, The Economic Times report.

Data Protection

  • [July 8] Indian parliament members call for Data Protection Bill and TikTok ban, Inc42 report.
  • [July 8] British Airways fined record 183 million for data breach involving 500,000 customers: report, Medianama report, BBC report.
  • [July 9] Digital data protection to be a fundamental right in Brazil as amendment to constitution is approved, Medianama report.
  • [July 12] Not ‘Okay Google’: Firms admits that workers listen to audio from Assistant, Home, Medianama report, Fox News report, VRT News report.
  • [July 12] Google data breach faces review by Irish privacy watchdog, Bloomberg report.
  • [July 13] Facebook fined $ 5 billion by US regulators over privacy and data protection lapses, News 18 report, The Hindu Business Line report.
  • [July 13] Indian Govt is selling vehicle owner data to companies and citizens don’t have a clue, Inc42 report, Entrackr report.
  • [July 15] Data protection law must be the same for both private and government players, The New Indian Express report.

Digital India

  • [July 15] PMO panel seeks multinational companies’ inputs on making India electronics hub, ET Telecom report.

Data Localisation and E-Commerce

  • [July 11] Gautam Adani woos Amazon and Google with Indian data hubs, ET Telecom report.
  • [July 9] A tug of war hots the draft e-commerce policy. US tech giants want leeway in data localisation, ET Prime report. [paywall]
  • [July 15] Delhi and Bengaluru customs stop clearing ‘gifts’, Economic Times report, Medianama report.

Telecom/5G

  • [July 15] Inter-ministerial panel clears draft RFP to select auctioneer for 2019 spectrum sale, ET Telecom report.

More on Huawei

  • [July 10] Huawei makes Monaco world’s fully 5G country, Live Mint report.
  • [July 10] Huawei ban eased but tech can’t relax, Financial Times report.
  • [July 11] NSAB members, Chinese diplomat cross swords over Huawei, Indian Express report.
  • [July 12] Doubts over Huawei’s participation in India’s 5G rollout deepen, Live Mint report, NDTV Gadgets 360 report.
  • [July 14] Huawei plans extensive layoffs at its US operations, Live Mint report, The Economic Times report.
  • [July 13] US tells Britain: Fall in line over China and Huawei, or no trade deal, The Telegraph report
  • [July 14] US seeks to discredit UK spies in war against Huawei, The Times UK report.

Big Tech: Regulation

  • [July 11] France passes law taxing digital giants in defiance of US anger, Agence France Presse report.
  • [July 10] US Announces Inquiry of French Digital Tax that may end in tariffs, The New York Times report.

Cryptocurrencies

  • [July 9] Indian govt to educate top cops on cryptocurrencies, aiming to investigate crypto matters, CrytpoNewZ report.
  • [July 9] Facebook to Senators: Libra crypto will respect privacy, Coin Desk report.
  • [July 11] Winklevoss-backed crypto self-regulatory group prepares to woo congress, Coin Desk report.
  • [July 12] Japanese crypto exchange hacked, loses $ 32 million, The Hindu Business Line report, Coin Telegraph report.
  • [July 13] Study exposes how Russia, Iran and China are weaponizing crypto, CNN report.
  • [July 13] China’s illegal crypto mining crackdown could ignite a bitcoin price rally, CNN report.
  • [July 15] IRS confirms it trained staff to find crypto wallets, Coin Desk report.

Emerging Tech

  • [July 9] AI in cybersecurity expected to surpass $38 billion, Security Boulevard report.
  • [July 14] How aritifical intelligence is solving different business problems, Financial Express report.
  • [July 14] Why AI is the future of cybersecurity, Forbes report.

Cybersecurity

  • [July 8] Chinese hackers demonstrate their global cyber espionage reach with breach at 10 of the world’s biggest telecoms, CPO Magazine report.
  • [July 12] Businesses in India tapping AI to improve cybersecurity, The Economic Times report, Fortune India report.
  • [July 15] Indian IT managers facing budget crunch for cybersecurity, The Economic Times report.

Tech and Law Enforcement: Surveillance and Cyber Crime

  • [July 8] NCRB invites bids to implement Automated Facial Recognition System, Medianama report.
  • [July 9]  The chase gets a lot easier for tech-wielding cops now, The Economic Times report.
  • [July 9] Delhi government begins installing CCTV cameras inside classrooms to prevent crime: report, Medianama report. Times now News report.
  • [July 10] Instagram announces two new anti-bullying features, Instagram’s announcement, Thw Wall Street Journal report, Medianama report.
  • [July 11] WhatsApp messages can be traced without diluting encryption, Zee News report.
  • [July 12] New POCSO bill to expand child porn definition to include anime, adults posing depicting children, Medianma report, Hindustan Times report.
  • [July 12] SC refuses to stay installation of CCTV cameras in Delhi Government schools, Medianama report, Bar & Bench report.

Tech and Military

  • [July 8] Japan-India security cooperation: Asian giants to expand their relations to Space, Financial Express report.
  • [July 8] Bill to tag individuals as ‘terrorist’ introduced in LS, Opposition protests: The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act Amendment Bill, 2019, Business Standard report
  • [July 8] Government introduces Bill in Lok Sabha to amend National Investigation Agency Act, The Economic Times report.
  • [July 8] Govt to procure 1.86 lakh bullet proof jackets by April next, The Hindu Business Line report.
  • [July 8] India, Russia agree on new payment mode for S-400 deal to get around US sanctions, The Print report.
  • [July 9] National e-Governance Division to revamp management app for the army, The Week report.
  • [July 9] Amazon, Microsoft wage war over the Pentagon’s ‘war cloud’,  NDTV Gadgets 360 report
  • [July 10] Last chance to get tech: Navy says negotiating next 6 subs to take years, Business Standard report.
  • [July 10] Tactical communications market size in the US region is projected to experience substantial proceeds by 2024, Tech Mag report.
  • [July 11] Govt says looking at tech to seal northern and eastern borders, Live Mint report.
  • [July 11] Army man arrested for leaking info on national security, The Tribune report.
  • [July 12] Wait for sniper rifles gets longer, MoD retracts the RFP issued last year, Financial Express report.
  • [July 12] India, Russia discuss space cooperation, The Hindu report
  • [July 12] Israel arms company signs $100 million missile deal with Indian army, Middle East Monitor report.

Defense Budget: Reports and Analyses

  • [July 8] Budget 2019: India redirects foreign aid to Indian ocean countries, NSCS expenditure hiked, Business Standard report.
  • [July 8] Laxman K Behera, Institute for Defense Studies and Analysis, India’s Defence budget 2019-20.
  • [July 8] PK Vasudeva, Deccan Herald, An alarming fall: Defence Budget 2019-20.
  • [July 8] Mihir S Sharma, Business Standard, Budget 2019: India won’t become a superpower with these allocations.
  • [July 9] PRS Legislative Research’s analysis: Ministry of Defence Demands for Grants 2019-20.
  • [July 9] Why Sitharaman’s budgetary allocation is unlikely to satisfy defence establishment, The Economic Times report.
  • [July 10] Brahma Chellaney, Hindustan Times, India’s defence planning has no clear strategic direction.
  • [July 10] Harsh V Pant, Live Mint Opinion, We need not whine about India’s small defence budget.
  • [July 12] Commodore Anil Jai Singh, Financial Express, Budget 2019: Optimising the Defence Budget and the need for organizational reform.
  • [July 13] Shekhar Gupta, The Print, Modi isn’t about to change India into national security state like Pakistan and bankrupt it.
  • [July 13] Budget 2019: Cybersecurity – a holy grail for government’s Digital India dream, Financial Express analysis.
  • [July 15] Ravi Shanker Kapoor, News 18 Opinion, Cost of not carrying out economic reforms: acute shortage of funds for military modernization.

Opinions and Anlayses

  • [July 8] Adam Bemma, Al Jazeera, Is Sri Lanka using the Easter attacks to limit digital freedom?
  • [July 9] Dr M Suresh Babu and Dr K Bhavana Raj, The Hans India, Data Protection Bill – boon or bane for digital economy?
  • [July 8] Walter Olson, The CATO Institute blog, One year later, the harms of Europe’s data-privacy law.
  • [July 8]  Jack Parrock, Euro News, The Brief: Data privacy v. surveillance transatlantic clash.
  • [July 9] Abhijit Mukhopadhyaya and Nishant Jha, ORF, Amidst US-China standoff Huawei battles for survival.
  • [July 10] Kuldip Kunmar, The Economic Times, Budget 2019 shows govt’s will to use Aadhaar to track financial transactions.
  • [July 11] Darryn Pollock, Forbes, Is Facebook forming a crypto mafia as Libra foundation members boost each other’s businesses?
  • [July 12] Amitendu Palit, Financial Express, India ditches data dialogue again.
  • [July 12] Shantanu Roy-Chaudhary, The Diplomat, India-China-Sri Lanka Triangle: The Defense Dimension.
  • [July 12] Richard A Clarke and Robert K Knake, The Wall Street Journal, US companies learn to defend themselves in cyberspace.
  • [July 12] Simon Chandler, Coin Telegraph, US Sanctions on Iran Crypto Mining— Inevitable or Impossible?
  • [July 12] Shekhar Chnadra, Scientific American, What to expect from India’s second Moon mission.
  • [July 14] Agnidipto Tarafder and Siddharth Sonkar, The Wire, Will the Aadhaar Amendment Bill Pass Judicial Scrutiny?
  • [July 14] Scott Williams, Live Wire, Your crypto overlords are coming…
  • [July 15] Why Google cloud hasn’t picked up yet in India, ET Telecom report

The Facebook Effect: Political Advertisement on Social Media

The Election Commission(EC) released the dates for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections on the 10th of March, and with this announcement, India has officially entered the home stretch of the 2019 elections. With the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) now in effect, the political parties are bound by certain restrictions in terms of advertising and campaigning. MCC’s have been in effect since 1968 which serve as a binding model code based upon a consensus between all political parties to ensure ethical behavior during elections. Due to its consensual nature, MCC is not a statutory document and the violation of many of its provisions does not attract punitive action. The MCC seeks to ensure free and fair elections and is enforced by the Election Commission. It has evolved with time to incorporate all aspects of political campaigning, with the current edition of the MCC also extending to social media posts and online advertising. This shows a paradigm shift in the mode of campaigning employed by many political parties; with the rise of social media activity in India, the online sphere has become a virtual battleground of political advertisement.

The regulations which govern other advertisements, such as print media and radio, will also be extended to social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter. The forums have been contacted by the Elections Commission, and platforms like Twitter and Facebook have released their own codes of conduct to be followed at the time of elections. The increased scrutiny of social media platforms for political advertisement is a welcomed change, and comes at the heels of the Cambridge Analytica scandal which broke early last year, and is rumored to have has significant impacts on the US elections and the Brexit vote.

The new guidelines bring political advertisements on social media platforms under the MCC, similar to the provisions relating to newspaper and radio advertisements, parties are now required to disclose expenditure accounts for social media advertisement as well. These advertisements will also have to go through a mandated Pre-Certification procedure, and they will be monitored by the Media Certification and Monitoring Committees (MCMCs) placed at the district and state levels to which a social media expert will be added. The candidates are also required to submit details of their social media accounts (as applicable) at the time of filing nominations. The EC has also extended the norms applicable to social media advertising to include Voice and SMS messages propagated through phones.

The platforms have also agreed to the guidelines laid down in the MCC and agreed to take stringent actions against any content reported by designated officers of the EC. To this end, they have agreed to set up priority channels with the EC for quick response to complaints. The EC has also sought to extend the ban on political advertisement for 48 hours before the elections to social media, as mandated under section 128 of the Representation of People Act.

The new guidelines have been lauded and criticized by many. One of the chief complaints stems from the fact that private posts of individuals would not count as advertisements and would thus not be covered under these regulations. Parties and workers are still able to use their pages to upload posts supporting their candidacy which are exempt from the MCC. However, it would be difficult to bring personal posts under this ambit without violating the right to freedom of speech guaranteed under the constitution. Any discrepancies or hate speech propagated under these private posts would still be governed under their community guidelines and can be reported under the same. Additionally, depending upon the subject matter of the individual posts, they would also be punishable under the Hate Speech laws in India, such as those relating to promoting enmity between groups, assertions prejudicial to national integration, hurting religious sentiment etc. There is a comprehensive and robust legal framework which deals with Hate Speech in India and as such the EC should not be required to step in to govern a citizen’s private posts made in a personal capacity.

The effects of the guidelines can already be felt, as the EC has contacted Facebook, asking them to take down a controversial poster featuring members of the Armed forces, being used as part of a political campaign. The poster in question was uploaded by the social media account of O.P Sharma and has a picture of Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman on it, which is in direct contravention of and advisory issued by the commission in 2013, in which it had asked them to desist from using photographs of defence personnel or any events associated with them for political propaganda

What you can do: The 17th Lok Sabha elections also debuts the cVIGIL app, which is a mobile application created by the Election Commission to provide a reliable mechanism enabling citizens to transmit and track complaints relating to the breach of the MCC. In addition, the Voters helpline 1950, can also be used to register complaints for potential breeches of the MCC. With the upcoming election shaping up to be one of the most expensive elections to date, the EC is working on ensuring a free and fair election process without any voter coercion and fake news to skew the balance.

Happy Voting!

Launching our Mapping Report on ‘Hate Speech Laws in India’

We are launching our report on hate speech laws in India. This report maps criminal laws and procedural laws, along with medium-specific laws used by the state to regulate hate speech.

This report was launched last week at a panel on ‘Harmful Speech in India’, as a part of UNESCOs World Press Freedom Day. The panel was comprised of Pamela Philipose, Aakar Patel, Chinmayi Arun and Sukumar Muralidharan. The panelists discussed the state of harmful speech in the country and regulatory issues arising from the proliferation of hate speech.

We hope that this report can serve as a basis for further research on hate speech in India, and can serve as a resource for practicing lawyers, journalists and activists.

We would appreciate any feedback, please feel free to leave a comment or to write to us.

The report can be found here.

 

 

 

 

Pachauri defamation suit: Court rejects interim gag order plea

The Patiala House court at Delhi has rejected R. K. Pachauri’s plea for an interim gag order against NDTV, Bennett Coleman and Co., and the India Today Group. The media houses had been made defendants in a defamation suit filed by him in 2016.

In 2015, an FIR had been filed against Pachauri by a woman employee of TERI (The Energy and Resources Institute, of which he was then the Chief) accusing him of sexual harassment. Following these allegations, several other women had spoken out about similar experiences while they had worked at the organization. The allegations and ongoing proceedings had received extensive coverage in the media.

Pachauri filed for defamation against multiple parties, including the media houses, one of the women who had spoken out, as well as her lawyer. He sought a gag order against the media houses, and damages of Rs. 1 Crore from the victim and her lawyer.

We have written previously about how suits such as these are in the nature of ‘SLAPP’ suits – Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation. These are cases where powerful individuals and corporations use litigation as a way of intimidating or silencing their critics. The defendants are usually media houses or individuals who are then forced to muster the resources to mount a legal defense. Even if they are able to secure a victory in Court, it is at the cost of a protracted and expensive process.

The court has now refused to grant an interim injunction against the media houses, noting the right of the public to be aware of the developments. It further noted that public figures can be held to a higher degree of scrutiny by the public. However, it has also held that further reportage must also carry Pachauri’s views, and indicate that the matter is still pending before the Court. The text of the order may be found here.

Facebook and its (dis)contents

In 2016, Norwegian writer Tom Egeland, uploaded a post on Facebook, listing seven photographs that “changed the history of warfare”. The post featured the Pulitzer-winning image, ‘The Terror of War’, which depicts a naked nine-year-old running from a napalm attack during the Vietnam War. Facebook deleted the post, and suspended Egeland’s account.

A Norwegian newspaper, Aftenposten, while reporting on the suspension, used the same image on its Facebook page. The newspaper soon received a message from Facebook demanding that the image be either removed, or pixelated. The editor-in-chief refused to comply in an open letter to Mark Zuckerburg, noting his concern at the immense power Facebook wielded over speech online. The issue escalated when several Norwegian politicians, including the Prime Minister, shared the image on Facebook, and were temporarily suspended from Facebook as well.

Facebook initially stated that it would be difficult to create a distinction between instances where a photograph of a nude child could be allowed. However, due to widespread censure, the platform eventually decided to reinstate the image owing to its “status as an iconic image of historical importance.”

This incident brought to light the tricky position Facebook finds itself in as it attempts to police its platform. Facebook addresses illegal and inappropriate content through a mix of automated processes, and human moderation. The company publishes guidelines about what content may not be appropriate for its platform, called its ‘Community Standards.’ Users can ‘flag’ content that they think does not meet the Community Standards, which is then reviewed by moderators. Moderators may delete, ignore, or escalate flagged content to a senior manager. In some cases, the user account may be suspended, or asked to submit identity verification.

As evident from the ‘Terrors of War’ incident, Facebook has often come under fire for supposed ‘wrong’ moderation of content, as well as opacity in how its community review process comes to be applied. It has been argued that content that is evidently in violation of Community Standards is often not taken down, while content that should be safe is censored. For instance, Facebook courted controversy again, when it was accused of blocking content and accounts documenting persecution of the Rohingya Muslim community in Myanmar.

Closer home as well, multiple instances of Facebook’s questionable moderation practices have come to light. In October 2017, Raya Sarkar, a law student based out of the United States, had created what came to be called, the List. The List named over 70 prominent academics that had been accused of sexual harassment. The approach proved extremely controversial, sparking debates about due process, and the failure of institutional mechanisms to address harassment. Facebook blocked her account for seven days, which proved equally contentious. Sarkar’s account was restored only after Facebook staff in Palo Alto were contacted directly. Similar instances have been reported of seemingly arbitrary application of the Community Standards. In many cases accounts have been suspended, and content blocked without notice, explanation or recourse.

Content moderation inherently involves much scope for interpretation and disagreement. Factors such as context, as well as cultural differences, render it a highly subjective exercise. Algorithms don’t appear to have reached sufficient levels of sophistication, and there exist larger issues associated with automated censoring of speech. Human moderators are by all accounts burdened by the volume and the psychologically taxing nature of the work, and therefore prone to error. The way forward should therefore be first, to ensure that transparent mechanisms exist for recourse against the removal of legitimate speech.

In light of the ‘Terror of War’ incident, Facebook responded by updating its community standards. In a statement, it said that it would allow graphic material that would be “newsworthy, significant, or important to the public interest — even if they might otherwise violate our standards.” Leaked moderator guidelines in 2017 opened the company up to granular public critique of its policies. There is evidently scope for Facebook to be more responsive and consultative in how it regulates speech online.

In June 2017, Facebook reached 2 billion monthly users, making it the largest social network, and a platform for digital interaction without precedent. It has announced plans to reach 5 billion. With the influence it now wields, it must also embrace its responsibility to be more transparent and accountable to its users.