The Future of Democracy in the Shadow of Big and Emerging Tech: CCG Essay Series

By Shrutanjaya Bhardwaj and Sangh Rakshita

In the past few years, the interplay between technology and democracy has reached a critical juncture. The untrammelled optimism for technology has now been shadowed by rising concerns over the survival of a meaningful democratic society. With the expanding reach of technology platforms, there have been increasing concerns in democratic societies around the world on the impact of such platforms on democracy and human rights. In this context, increasingly there has been focus on policy issues like  the need for an antitrust framework for digital platforms, platform regulation and free speech, the challenges of fake news, impact of misinformation on elections, invasion of privacy of citizens due to the deployment of emerging tech,  and cybersecurity. This has intensified the quest for optimal policy solutions. We, at the Centre for Communication Governance at National Law University Delhi (CCG), believe that a detailed academic exploration of the relationship between democracy, and big and emerging tech will aid our understanding of the current problems, help contextualise them and highlight potential policy and regulatory responses.

Thus, we bring to you this series of essays—written by experts in the domain—in an attempt to collate contemporary scholarly thought on some of the issues that arise in the context of the interaction of democracy, and big and emerging tech. The essay series is publicly available on the CCG website. We have also announced the release of the essay series on Twitter

Our first essay addresses the basic but critical question: What is ‘Big Tech’? Urvashi Aneja & Angelina Chamuah present a conceptual understanding of the phrase. While ‘Big Tech’ refers to a set of companies, it is certainly not a fixed set; companies become part of this set by exhibiting four traits or “conceptual markers” and—as a corollary—would stop being identified in this category if they were to lose any of the four markers. The first marker is that the company runs a data-centric model and has massive access to consumer data which can be leveraged or exploited. The second marker is that ‘Big Tech’ companies have a vast user base and are “multi-sided platforms that demonstrate strong network effects”. The third and fourth markers are the infrastructural and civic roles of these companies respectively, i.e., they not only control critical societal infrastructure (which is often acquired through lobbying efforts and strategic mergers and acquisitions) but also operate “consumer-facing platforms” which enable them to generate consumer dependence and gain huge power over the flow of information among citizens. It is these four markers that collectively define ‘Big Tech’. [U. Aneja and A. Chamuah, What is Big Tech? Four Conceptual Markers]

Since the power held by Big Tech is not only immense but also self-reinforcing, it endangers market competition, often by hindering other players from entering the market. Should competition law respond to this threat? If yes, how? Alok P. Kumar & Manjushree R.M. explore the purpose behind competition law and find that competition law is concerned not only with consumer protection but also—as evident from a conjoint reading of Articles 14 & 39 of the Indian Constitution—with preventing the concentration of wealth and material resources in a few hands. Seen in this light, the law must strive to protect “the competitive process”. But the present legal framework is too obsolete to achieve that aim. Current understanding of concepts such as ‘relevant market’, ‘hypothetical monopolist’ and ‘abuse of dominance’ is hard to apply to Big Tech companies which operate more on data than on money. The solution, it is proposed, lies in having ex ante regulation of Big Tech rather than a system of only subsequent sanctions through a possible code of conduct created after extensive stakeholder consultations. [A.P. Kumar and Manjushree R.M., Data, Democracy and Dominance: Exploring a New Antitrust Framework for Digital Platforms]

Market dominance and data control give an even greater power to Big Tech companies, i.e., control over the flow of information among citizens. Given the vital link between democracy and flow of information, many have called for increased control over social media with a view to checking misinformation. Rahul Narayan explores what these demands might mean for free speech theory. Could it be (as some suggest) that these demands are “a sign that the erstwhile uncritical liberal devotion to free speech was just hypocrisy”? Traditional free speech theory, Narayan argues, is inadequate to deal with the misinformation problem for two reasons. First, it is premised on protecting individual liberty from the authoritarian actions by governments, “not to control a situation where baseless gossip and slander impact the very basis of society.” Second, the core assumption behind traditional theory—i.e., the possibility of an organic marketplace of ideas where falsehood can be exposed by true speech—breaks down in context of modern era misinformation campaigns. Therefore, some regulation is essential to ensure the prevalence of truth. [R. Narayan, Fake News, Free Speech and Democracy]

Jhalak M. Kakkar and Arpitha Desai examine the context of election misinformation and consider possible misinformation regulatory regimes. Appraising the ideas of self-regulation and state-imposed prohibitions, they suggest that the best way forward for democracy is to strike a balance between the two. This can be achieved if the State focuses on regulating algorithmic transparency rather than the content of the speech—social media companies must be asked to demonstrate that their algorithms do not facilitate amplification of propaganda, to move from behavioural advertising to contextual advertising, and to maintain transparency with respect to funding of political advertising on their platforms. [J.M. Kakkar and A. Desai, Voting out Election Misinformation in India: How should we regulate Big Tech?]

Much like fake news challenges the fundamentals of free speech theory, it also challenges the traditional concepts of international humanitarian law. While disinformation fuels aggression by state and non-state actors in myriad ways, it is often hard to establish liability. Shreya Bose formulates the problem as one of causation: “How could we measure the effect of psychological warfare or disinformation campaigns…?” E.g., the cause-effect relationship is critical in tackling the recruitment of youth by terrorist outfits and the ultimate execution of acts of terror. It is important also in determining liability of state actors that commit acts of aggression against other sovereign states, in exercise of what they perceive—based on received misinformation about an incoming attack—as self-defence. The author helps us make sense of this tricky terrain and argues that Big Tech could play an important role in countering propaganda warfare, just as it does in promoting it. [S. Bose, Disinformation Campaigns in the Age of Hybrid Warfare]

The last two pieces focus attention on real-life, concrete applications of technology by the state. Vrinda Bhandari highlights the use of facial recognition technology (‘FRT’) in law enforcement as another area where the state deploys Big Tech in the name of ‘efficiency’. Current deployment of FRT is constitutionally problematic. There is no legal framework governing the use of FRT in law enforcement. Profiling of citizens as ‘habitual protestors’ has no rational nexus to the aim of crime prevention; rather, it chills the exercise of free speech and assembly rights. Further, FRT deployment is wholly disproportionate, not only because of the well-documented inaccuracy and bias-related problems in the technology, but also because—more fundamentally—“[t]reating all citizens as potential criminals is disproportionate and arbitrary” and “creates a risk of stigmatisation”. The risk of mass real-time surveillance adds to the problem. In light of these concerns, the author suggests a complete moratorium on the use of FRT for the time being. [V. Bhandari, Facial Recognition: Why We Should Worry the Use of Big Tech for Law Enforcement

In the last essay of the series, Malavika Prasad presents a case study of the Pune Smart Sanitation Project, a first-of-its-kind urban sanitation programme which pursues the Smart City Mission (‘SCM’). According to the author, the structure of city governance (through Municipalities) that existed even prior to the advent of the SCM violated the constitutional principle of self-governance. This flaw was only aggravated by the SCM which effectively handed over key aspects of city governance to state corporations. The Pune Project is but a manifestation of the undemocratic nature of this governance structure—it assumes without any justification that ‘efficiency’ and ‘optimisation’ are neutral objectives that ought to be pursued. Prasad finds that in the hunt for efficiency, the design of the Pune Project provides only for collection of data pertaining to users/consumers, hence excluding the marginalised who may not get access to the system in the first place owing to existing barriers. “Efficiency is hardly a neutral objective,” says Prasad, and the state’s emphasis on efficiency over inclusion and participation reflects a problematic political choice. [M. Prasad, The IoT-loaded Smart City and its Democratic Discontents]

We hope that readers will find the essays insightful. As ever, we welcome feedback.

This series is supported by the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom (FNF) and has been published by the National Law University Delhi Press. We are thankful for their support. 

[September 23-30] CCG’s Week in Review: Curated News in Information Law and Policy

The deadline to link PAN cards with Aadhaar was extended to December 31 this week; the Election Commission ruled that voting rights of those excluded in the NRC process remain unaffected; the Home Minister proposed a digital census with multipurpose ID cards for 2021; and 27 nations including the US, UK and Canada issued joint statement urging for a rules-based order in cyberspace – presenting this week’s most important developments in law, technology and national security.

Aadhaar and Digital IDs

  • [Sep 23] Home Minister announces digital census in 2021, proposed multipurpose ID card, Entrackr report; Business Today report.
  • [Sep 24] NRIs can now apply for Aadhaar on arrival without 182-day wait, The Economic Times report.
  • [Sep 24] Aadhaar will be linked to driving license to avoid forgery: Ravi Shankar Prasad, The Indian Express report.
  • [Sep 24] One nation, one card? Amit Shah floats idea of all-in-one ID; here are all the problems with that idea, Medianama report; Money Control report.
  • [Sep 24] Explained: Is India likely to have a multipurpose national ID card? The Indian Express report.
  • [Sep 24] UIDAI nod to ‘voluntary’ use of Aadhaar for National Population Register rollout, The Economic Times report.
  • [Sep 24] Govt must decide on Aadhaar-social media linkage:SC, Deccan Herald report.
  • [Sep 25] New law needed for Aadhaar-social media linkage: UIDAI, The Economic Times report; Inc42 report.
  • [Sep 26] NPR process to include passport, voter ID, Aadhaar and other details, Business Standard report.
  • [Sep 27] Gang involved in making fake Aadhaar cards busted, The Tribune report.
  • [Sep 27] What will happen if you don’t link your PAN card with Aadhaar by Sep 20, The Quint report.
  • [Sep 27] Explained: The National Population Register, and the controversy around it, The Indian Express report.
  • [Sep 27] Aadhaar to weed out bogus social security beneficiaries in Karnataka, Deccan Herald report.
  • [Sep 29] Bajrang Dal wants Aadhaar mandatory at dandiya to keep ‘non-Hindus’ out, The Hindustan Times report; The Wire report.
  • [Sep 30] Kerala urges Centre to extend deadline to link ration cards with Aadhaar, The News Minute report.
  • [Sep 30] PAN-Aadhaar linking deadline extended to December 31, The Economic Times report.

Digital India 

  • [Sep 25] India’s regulatory approach should focus on the regulation of the ‘core’: IAMAI, Livemint report.
  • [Sep 27] India may have to offer sops to boost electronic manufacturing, ET Tech report; Inc42 report.
  • [Sep 27] Digital India, start-ups are priorities for $5 trillion economy: PM Modi, Medianama report.
  • [Sep 29] Tech giants aim to skill Indian govt officials in AI, cloud, ET CIO report.
  • [Sep 29] India’s share in IT, R&D biz up in 2 years: report, The Economic Times report.

Internet Governance

  • [Sep 24] Supreme Court to MeitY: What’s the status of intermediary guidelines? Tell us by Oct 15, Medianama report.
  • [Sep 26] Will not be ‘excessive’ with social media rules, ay Govt officials, Inc42 report.
  • [Sep 26] Government trying to balance privacy and security in draft IT intermediary norms, The Economic Times report.
  • [Sep 27] Citizens, tech companies served better with some regulation: Facebook India MD Ajit Mohan, ET Tech report; Inc42 report.
  • [Sep 27] Balance benefits of internet, data security: Google CEO Sundar Pichai, ET Tech report; Business Today report.

Free Speech

  • [Sep 25] Jadavpur University calls upon ‘stakeholders’ to ensure free speech on campus, The New Indian Express report.
  • [Sep 28] RSS raises objections to uncensored content of Maoj Bajpayee’s “The Family Man”, The Hindu report; Outlook report.

Privacy and Data Protection

  • [Sep 23] A landmark decision on Tuesday could radically reshape how Google’s search results work, Business Insider report.
  • [Sep 23] Google tightens its voice assistant rules amidst privacy backlash, Wired report.
  • [Sep 24] Dell rolls out new data protection storage appliances and capabilities, ZDNet report.
  • [Sep 24] ‘Right to be forgotten’ privacy rule is limited by Europe’s top court, The New York Times report; Live Law report.
  • [Sep 27] Nigeria launches investigation into Truecaller for potential breach of privacy, Medianama report.
  • [Sep 29] Right to be forgotten will be arduous as India frames data protection law, Business Standard report.
  • [Sep 30] FPIs move against data bill, seek exemption, ET Telecom report; Entrackr report.

Data Localisation

  • [Sep 26] Reconsider imposition of data localisation: IAMAI report, The Economic Times report.
  • [Sep 27] Why data is not oil: Here’s how India’s data localisation norms will hurt the economy, Inc42 report.

Digital Payments and Fintech

  • [Sep 23] RBI rider on credit bureau data access has Fintech in a quandary, ET Tech report.

Cryptocurrencies

  • [Sep 23] Facebook reveals Libra currency basket breakdown, Coin Desk report.
  • [Sep 23] The face of India’s crypto lobby readies for a clash, Ozy report.
  • [Sep 23] Why has Brazil’s Central Bank included crypto assets in trade balance? Coin Telegraph report.
  • [Sep 24] French retailers widening crypto acceptance, Tech Xplore report.
  • [Sep 26] Why crypto hoaxes are so successful, Quartz report.
  • [Sep 26] South Africa: the net frontier for crypto exchanges, Coin Telegraph report
  • [Sep 27] The crypto wars’ strange bedfellows, Forbes report.
  • [Sep 28] Crypto industry is already preparing for Google’s ‘quantum supremacy’, Decrypt report.
  • [Sep 29] How crypto gambling is regulated around the world, Coin Telegraph report.

Tech and Law Enforcement

  • [Sep 29] New WhatsApp and Facebook Encryption ‘Backdoors’ – What’s really going on, Forbes report.
  • [Sep 28] Facebook, WhatsApp will have to share messages with UK Government, Bloomberg report.
  • [Sep 23] Secret FBI subpoenas scoop up personal data from scores of companies, The New York Times report.
  • [Sep 23] ‘Don’t transfer the WhatsApp traceability case’, Internet Freedom Foundation asks Supreme Court, Medianama report.
  • [Sep 24] China offers free subway rides to citizens who register their face with surveillance system, The Independent report.
  • [Sep 24] Facial recognition technology in public housing prompts backlash, The New York Times report.
  • [Sep 24] Facebook-Aadhaar linkage and WhatsApp traceability: Supreme Court says government must frame rules, CNBC TV18 report.
  • [ep 27] Fashion that counters surveillance cameras, Business Times report.
  • [Sep 27] Unnao rape case: Delhi court directs Apple to give Sengar’s location details on day of alleged rape, Medianama report.
  • [Sep 27] Face masks to decoy t-shirts: the rise of anti-surveillance fashion, Times of India report.
  • [Sep 30] Battle for privacy and encryption: WhatsApp and government head for a showdown on access to messages, ET Prime report.
  • [Sep 29] Improving digital evidence sharing, Scottish Government news report; Public technology report.

Internal Security: J&K

  • [Sep 23] Government launches internet facilitation centre in Pulwama for students, Times of India report; Business Standard report.
  • [Sep 23] Army chief rejects ‘clampdown’ in Jammu and Kashmir, Times of India report.
  • [Sep 24] Rising power: Why India has faced muted criticism over its Kashmir policy, Business Standard report.
  • [Sep 24] ‘Restore Article 370, 35A in Jammu and Kashmir, withdraw army, paramilitary forces’: 5-member women’s group will submit demands to Amit Shah, Firstpost report.
  • [Sep 24] No normalcy in Kashmir, says fact finding team, The Hindu report.
  • [Sep 25] End clampdown: Kashmir media, The Telegraph report.
  • [Sep 25] Resolve Kashmir issue through dialogue and not through collision: Erdogan, The Economic Times report.
  • [Sep 25] Rajya Sabha deputy chair thwarts Pakistan’s attempt at Kashmir at Eurasian Conference, The Economic Times report.
  • [Sep 25] Pakistan leader will urge UN intervention in Kashmir, The New York Times report.
  • [Sep 25] NSA Ajit Doval back in Srinagar to review security situation, The Hindustan Times report.
  • [Sep 27] Communication curbs add fresh challenge to Kashmir counter-insurgency operations, News18 report.
  • [Sep 27] Fresh restrictions in parts of Kashmir, The Hindu report.
  • [Sep 27] US wants ‘rapid’ easing of Kashmir restrictions, Times of India report.
  • [Sep 27] Kashmir issue: Rescind action on Art. 370, OIC tells India, The Hindu report.
  • [Sep 28] India objects to China’s reference to J&K and Ladakh at UNGA, The Economic Times report; The Hindu report.
  • [Sep 29] Surveillance, area domination operations intensified in Kashmir, The Economic Times report; Financial Express report.
  • [Sep 29] Police impose restrictions in J&K after Imran Khan’s speech at UNGA, India Today report.

Internal Security: NRC and the North-East

  • [Sep 23] Assam framing cyber security policy to secure data related to NRC, police, services, The Economic Times report; Money Control report.
  • [Sep 24] BJP will tell SC that we reject this NRC, says Himanta Biswa Sarma, Business Standard report.
  • [Sep 24] Amit Shah to speak on NRC, Citizenship Amendment Bill in Kolkata on Oct 1, The Economic Times report.
  • [Sep 26] ‘Expensive’ legal battle for those rejected in Assam NRC final list, The Economic Times report.
  • [Sep 27] Scared of NRC? Come back in 2022, The Telegraph report.
  • [Sep 27] Voters left out of NRC will have right to vote, rules Election Commission, India Today report; The Wire report.
  • [Sep 27] NRC: Assam government announces 200 Foreigners Tribunals in 33 districts, Times Now report; Times of India report.
  • [Sep 28] Judge urges new FT members to examine NRC claims with utmost care, Times of India report.

National Security Legislation

  • [Sep 23] Centre will reintroduce Citizenship Bill in Parliament: Himanta Biswa Sarma, The Hindu report.
  • [Sep 26] National Security Guard: History, Functions and Operations, Jagran Josh report.
  • [Sep 28] Left parties seek revocation of decision on Article 370, The Tribune India report.

Tech and National Security

  • [Sep 25] Army to start using Artificial Intelligence in 2-3 years: South Western Army commander, The Print report; India Today report; The New Indian Express report; Financial Express report.
  • [Sep 23] Modi, Trump set new course on terrorism, border security, The Hindu report.
  • [Sep 23] PM Modi in the US” Trump promises more defence deals with India, military trade to go up, Financial Express report.
  • [Sep 23] Punjab police bust terror module supplied with weapons by drones from Pak, NDTV report.
  • [Sep 26] Lockheed Martin to begin supplying F-16 wings from Hyderabad plant in 2020, Livemint report.
  • [Sep 26] Drones used for cross-border arms infiltration in Punjab a national security issues, says Randhawa, The Hindu report.
  • [Sep 27] UK MoD sets up cyber team for secure innovation, UK Authority report.
  • [Sep 29] New tri-services special ops division, meant for surgical strikes, finishes first exercise today, The Print report.
  • [Sep 30] After Saudi attacks, India developing anti-drone technology to counter drone menace, Eurasian Times report.

Tech and Elections

  • [Sep 20] Microsoft will offer free Windows 7 support for US election officials through 2020, Cyber Scoop report.
  • [Sep 26] Social media platforms to follow ‘code of ethics’ in all future elections: EC, The Economic Times report.
  • [Sep 28] Why is EC not making ‘authentic’ 2019 Lok Sabha results public? The Quint report.

Cybersecurity

  • [Sep 24] Androids and iPhones hacked with just one WhatsApp click – and Tibetans are under attack, Forbes report.
  • [Sep 25] Sharp questions can help board oversee cybersecurity, The Wall Street Journal report.
  • [Sep 25] What we know about CrowdStrike, the cybersecurity firm trump mentioned in Ukraine call, and its billionaire CEO, Forbes report.
  • [Sep 25] 36% smaller firms witnessed data breaches in 2019 globally, ET Rise report.
  • [Sep 28] Defence Construction Canada hit by cyber attack – corporation’s team trying to restore full IT capability, Ottawa Citizen report.
  • [Sep 29] Experts call for collective efforts to counter cyber threats, The New Indian Express report.
  • [Sep 29] Microsoft spots malware that turns PCs into zombie proxies, ET Telecom report
  • [Sep 29] US steps up scrutiny of airplane cybersecurity, The Wall Street Journal report.

Cyberwarfare

  • [Sep 24] 27 countries sign cybersecurity pledge urging rules-based control over cyberspace in Joint Statement, with digs at China and Russia, CNN report; IT world Canada report; Meri Talk report.
  • [Sep 26] Cyber Peace Institute fills a critical need for cyber attack victims, Microsoft blog.
  • [Sep 29] Britain is ‘at war every day’ due to constant cyber attacks, Chief of the Defence Staff says, The Telegraph report.

Telecom and 5G

  • [Sep 27] Telcos’ IT investments intact, auto companies may slow pace: IBM exec, ET Tech report.
  • [Sep 29] Telecom players to lead digital transformation in India, BW Businessworld report.

More on Huawei

  • [Sep 22] Huawei confirms another nasty surprise for Mate 30 buyers, Forbes report.
  • [Sep 23] We’re on the same page with government on security: Huawei, The Economic Times report.
  • [Sep 24] The debate around 5G’s safety is getting in the way of science, Quartz report (paywall).
  • [Sep 24] Govt will take call on Huawei with national interest in mind: Telecom Secy, Business Standard report.
  • [Sep 24] Huawei enables 5G smart travel system at Beijing airport, Tech Radar report.
  • [Sep 25] Huawei 5G backdoor entry unproven, The Economic Times report.
  • [Sep 25] US prepares $1 bn fund to replace Huawei ban kit, Tech Radar report.
  • [Sep 26] Google releases large dataset of deepfakes for researchers, Medianama report.
  • [Sep 26] Huawei willing to license 5G technology to a US firm, The Hindu Business Line report; Business Standard report.
  • [Sep 26] Southeast Asia’s top phone carrier still open to Huawei 5G, Bloomberg report.
  • [Sep 29] Russia rolls out the red carpet for Huawei over 5G, The Economic Times report.

Emerging Tech and AI

  • [Sep 20] Google researchers have reportedly achieved “Quantum Supremacy”, Financial Times report; MIT Technology Review report
  • [Sep 23] Artificial Intelligence revolution in healthcare in India: All we need to know, The Hindustan Times report.
  • [Sep 23] A new joystick for the brain-controlled vehicles of the future, Defense One report.
  • [Sep 24] Computing and AI: Humanistic Perspectives from MIT, MIT News report.
  • [Sep 24] Emerging technologies such as AI, 5G posing threats to privacy, says report, China Daily report.
  • [Sep 25] Alibaba unveils chip developed for artificial intelligence era, Financial Times report.
  • [Sep 26] Pentagon wants AI to interpret ‘strategic activity around the globe, Defense One report.
  • [Sep 27] Only 10 jobs created for every 100 jobs taken away by AI, ET Tech report.
  • [Sep 27] Experts say these emerging technologies should concern us, Business Insider report.
  • [Sep 27] What is on the horizon for export controls on ‘emerging technologies’? Industry comments may hold a clue, Modaq.com report.
  • [Sep 27] India can become world leader in artificial intelligence: Vishal Sikka, Money Control report.
  • [Sep 27] Elon Musk issues a terrifying prediction of ‘AI robot swarms’ and huge threat to mankind, The Daily Express (UK) report
  • [Sep 27] Russia’s national AI Centre is taking shape, Defense One report.
  • [Sep 29] Explained: What is ‘quantum supremacy’, The Hindu report.
  • [Sep 29] Why are scientists so excited about a new quantum computing milestone?, Scroll.in report.
  • [Sep 29] Artificial Intelligence has a gender bias problem – just ask Siri, The Wire report.
  • [Sep 29] How AI is changing the landscape of digital marketing, Inc42 report.

Opinions and Analyses

  • [Sep 21] Wim Zijnenburg, Defense One, Time to Harden International Norms on Armed Drones.
  • [Sep 23] David Sanger and Julian Barnes, The New York Times, The urgent search for a cyber silver bullet against Iran.
  • [Sep 23] Neven Ahmad, PRIO Blog, The EU’s response to the drone age: A united sky.
  • [Sep 23] Bisajit Dhar and KS Chalapati Rao, The Wire, Why an India-US Free Trade Agreement would require New Delhi to reorient key policies.
  • [Sep 23] Filip Cotfas, Money Control, Five reasons why data loss prevention has to be taken seriously.
  • [Sep 23] NF Mendoza, Tech Republic, 10 policy principles needed for artificial intelligence.
  • [Sep 24] Ali Ahmed, News Click, Are Indian armed forces turning partisan? : The changing civil-military relationship needs monitoring.
  • [Sep 24] Editorial, Deccan Herald, A polity drunk on Aadhaar.
  • [Sep 24] Mike Loukides, Quartz, The biggest problem with social media has nothing to do with free speech.
  • [Sep 24] Ananth Padmanabhan, Medianama, Civilian Drones: Privacy challenges and potential resolution. 
  • [Sep 24] Celine Herwijer and Dominic Kailash Nath Waughray, World Economic Forum, How technology can fast-track the global goals.
  • [Sep 24] S. Jaishankar, Financial Times, Changing the status of Jammu and Kashmir will benefit all of India.
  • [Sep 24] Editorial, Livemint, Aadhaar Mark 2.
  • [Sep 24] Vishal Chawla, Analytics India Magazine, AI in Defence: How Indi compares to US, China, Russia and South Korea.
  • [Sep 25] Craig Borysowich, IT Toolbox, Origin of Markets for Artificial Intelligence.
  • [Sep 25] Sudeep Chakravarti, Livemint, After Assam, NRC troubles may visit ‘sister’ Tripura.
  • [Sep 25] DH Kass, MSSP Blog, Cyber Warfare: New Rules of Engagement?
  • [Sep 25] Chris Roberts, Observer, How artificial intelligence could make nuclear war more likely.
  • [Sep 25] Ken Tola, Forbes, What is cybersecurity?
  • [Sep 25] William Dixon and  Jamil Farshchi, World Economic Forum, AI is transforming cybercrime. Here’s how we can fight back.
  • [Sep 25] Patrick Tucker, Defense One, Big Tech bulks up its anti-extremism group. But will it do more than talk?
  • [Sep 26] Udbhav Tiwari, Huffpost India, Despite last year’s Aadhaar judgement, Indians have less privacy than ever.
  • [Sep 26] Sylvia Mishra, Medianama, India and the United States: The time has come to collaborate on commercial drones.
  • [Sep 26] Subimal Bhattacharjee, The Hindu Business Line, Data flows and our national security interests.
  • [Sep 26] Ram Sagar, Analytics India Magazine, Top countries that are betting big on AI-based surveillance.
  • [Sep 26] Patrick Tucker, Defense One, AI will tell future medics who lives and who dies on the battlefield.
  • [Sep 26] Karen Hao, MIT Technology Review, This is how AI bias really happens – and why it’s so hard to fix.
  • [Sep 27] AG Noorani, Frontline, Kashmir dispute: Domestic or world issue?
  • [Sep 27] Sishanta Talukdar, Frontline, Final NRC list: List of exclusion.
  • [Sep 27] Freddie Stuart, Open Democracy, How facial recognition technology is bringing surveillance capitalism to our streets.
  • [Sep 27] Paul de Havilland, Crypto Briefing, Did Bitcoin crash or dip? Crypto’s trajectory moving forward.
  • [Sep 28] John Naughton, The Guardian, Will advances in quantum computing affect internet security?
  • [Sep 28] Suhrith Parthasarathy, The Hindu, The top court and a grave of freedom.
  • [Sep 28] Kazim Rizvi, YourStory, Data Protection Authority: the cornerstone to implement data privacy.
  • [Sep 28] Shekhar Gupta, The Print, Modi has convinced the world that Kashmir is India’s internal affair – but they’re still watching.
  • [Sep 29] Indrani Bagchi, The Economic Times, Why india needs to tread carefully on Kashmir.
  • [Sep 29] Medha Dutta Yadav, The New Indian Express, Data: Brave new frontier.
  • [Sep 29] Jon Markman, Forbes, New cybersecurity companies have their heads in the cloud.
  • [Sep 29] Editorial, The New York Times, On cybersecurity: Two scoops of perspective.
  • [Sep 30] Kuldip Singh, The Quint, New IAF Chief’s appointment: Why RKS Bhadauria must tread lightly.
  • [Sep 30] Karishma Koshal, The Caravan, With the data-protection bill in limbo, these policies contravene the right to privacy.

[September 16-23] CCG’s Week in Review: Curated News in Information Law and Policy

Cybersecurity experts warned of a new ‘SIM jacking’ threat, the Kerala High Court recognizes a right to access internet as the internet shutdown in Kashmir entered its 50th day; more updates on the linkage of Aadhaar with voter IDs and social media as the Indian Army braces itself to adopt AI – presenting this week’s most important developments in law, tech and national security.

Aadhaar

  • [Sep 16] Here are the amendments the Election Commission wants to the Representation of the People Act for Aadhaar-Voter ID linkage, Medianama report.
  • [Sep 18] Why Maj. Gen. Vombatkere has challenged Aadhaar Amendment Act in the Supreme Court; On WhatsApp and traceability, Medianama report.
  • [Sep 19] Drop in Aadhaar enrolments in J&K, The Economic Times report.
  • [Sep 20] In-principle decision to link Aadhaar with GST registration, The Economic Times report.
  • [Sep 23] Aadhaar card is now mandatory for nominees of your EPF account, Livemint report.

Digital India

  • [Sep 18] Indo-US ICT working group to meet on Sept 30, Oct 1, Medianama report.
  • [Sep 17] NITI Aayog frames guidelines for automated inspection of vehicles, ET Auto report.
  • [Sep 17] What TikTok told MEITY about its intermediary status, data collection, and policies for children, Medianama report.
  • [Sep 18] Soon, lands will have Aadhaar-like unique numbers, The Economic Times report; Business Today report.
  • [Sep 18] Drones to be used to digitally map India: report, Medianama report.
  • [Sep 18] PMO panel to release policy to boost handset manufacturing in India: report, Medianama report.
  • [Sep 19] Karnataka to set up exclusive body to boost innovation, The Hindu report.
  • [Sep 20] ‘Right To Access Internet Is Part Of Right To Privacy And Right To Education’: Kerala HC, Live Law report; Hindu report; NDTV report.

Data Protection and Privacy

  • [Sep 15] Privacy debate between govt, Facebook continues; no winner yet, Money Control report.
  • [Sep 16] Singapore, Philippines sign MoU on personal data protection, The Manila Times report.
  • [Sep 16] Industry wants careful drafting of regulations on non-personal data, The Economic Times report.
  • [Sep 16] Here are the top three reasons why data protection is required in every business, Firstpost report.
  • [Sep 20] Sensitive, super-sensitive data must be stored locally in india: RS PRasad, Business Standard report.
  • [Sep 20] Yet another data leak in Indian government database, exoposes multiple citizen IDs, Inc42 report.
  • [Sep 22] Infosys co-founder Kris Gopalakrishnan to lead panel on protection of non-personal data, Financial Express report.

E-Commerce

  • [Sep 16] Odisha government makes e-marketplace mandatory for procurements, The New Indian Express report.
  • [Sep 16] US antitrust officials investigate Amazon’s marketplace practices, Medianama report.
  • [Sep 17] Ministry of COnsumer Affairs extends deadline for comments on draft E-Commerce Guidelines 2019 to October 31, Medianama report.

FinTech and Digital Payments

  • [Sep 16] WhatsApp to roll out its payment services by end of this year: report, Medianama report; The Economic Times report.
  • [Sep 18] RBI proposes norms to regulate payment gateways and payment aggregators, Entrackr report.
  • [Sep 19] Regulatory shock for fintech firms: RBI blocks unregulated access to consumer credit history, Entrackr report.
  • [Sep 19] DSCI, MeitY and Google India join hands for ‘Digital Payment Abhiyan’, The Economic Times report.

Cryptocurrencies

  • [Sep 16] The toss of a Bitcoin: How crypto ban will hurt 5 mn Indians, 20k Blockchain developers, The Economic Times report.
  • [Sep 16] US Sanctions three alleged crypto hacking groups from North Korea, Coin Desk report.
  • [Sep 16] Crypto firms assess how to comply with anti-money laundering standards, The Wall Street Journal report.
  • [Sep 19] Bitcoin and crypto wallets are now being targeted by malware, Forbes report.
  • [Sep 21] Weekends are for Altcoins when it comes to crypto market gains, ET Markets report.
  • [Sep 21] Chinese officials surprisingly chill on crypto, Decrypt report.

Cybersecurity

  • [Sep 13] Ransomware has a new target, Defense One report.
  • [Sep 16] Deep learning and machine learning to transform cybersecurity, Tech Wire Asia report.
  • [Sep 16] America needs a whole-of-society approach to cybersecurity. ‘Grand Challenges’ can help, Defense One report.
  • [Sep 17] Financial asset firm PCI ordered to pay $1.5 million for poor cybersecurity practices, ZD Net report.
  • [Sep 20] Current Act outdated, need to include cyber security in IT legal framework: DCA chief, The Indian Express report.
  • [Sep 20] 10% of IT budget should be used for cybersecurity: Rear Admiral Mohit Gupta, ET Times report.
  • [Sep 20] Once hacked, twice shy: How auto supplier Harman learned to fight cyber car jackers, ET Auto report.
  • [Sep 21] Cybersecurity a big opportunity for telcos, says IBM executive, The Economic Times report.
  • [Sep 23] Cybersecurity experts raise alarm over new SIM jacking threat, The New Indian Express report.
  • [Sep 23] Cybersecurity: Tackling the menace of phishing, Financial Express report.

Tech and Law Enforcement; Surveillance

  • [Sep 15] Facebook moots ‘prospective’ solution to WhatsApp issue; India stands firm on traceability, Business Today report; Livemint report.
  • [Sep 18] Chinese firms are driving the rise of AI surveillance across Africa, Quartz report.
  • [Sep 18] Documents reveal how Russia taps phone companies for surveillance, Tech Crunch report.
  • [Sep 20] WhatsApp traceability case petitioner asks court to remove Aadhaar from the plea, consider only ‘authorised govt proofs’, Medianama report; Inc42 report; Bar & Bench report.
  • [Sep 20] Chennai-based KPost says traceability is possible, wants to be impleaded in WhatsApp case, Medianama report.

Tech and National Security

  • [Sep 13] Pentagon’s former top hacker wants to inject some Silicon Valley into the defense industry, Defense One report.
  • [Sep 16] Here’s how startups are helping the Defence Ministry up its game, Money Control report.
  • [Sep 16] After 6 years in exile, Edward Snowden explains himself, Wired report.
  • [Sep 17] US tells Saudi Arabia oil attacks were launched from Iran, The Wall Street Journal report.
  • [Sep 17] Why Rafale jets may be inducted into IAF by next summer only, Livemint report.
  • [Sep 17] US Air Force to shift billions of dollars to network its weapons, Defense One report.
  • [Sep 18] India to achieve US$26 billion defence industry by 2025: Defence Minister, Business Standard report.
  • [Sep 18] Mitigating security risks from emerging technologies, Army Technology analysis.
  • [Sep 18] Revised draft defence procurement norms to be ready by November end, The Hindu report.
  • [Sep 20] The NSA is running a satellite hacking experiment, Defense One report.
  • [Sep 20] Army to host seminar on artificial intelligence next week; seeks to enhance lethality, The Economic Times report; India Today report; The New Indian Express report.
  • [Sep 20] Defence Procurement: Not a level playing field for private sector, PSUs still rule, Bharat Shakti report.
  • [Sep 20] Indian Air Force ‘accepts’ Rafale, formal hand over on Dussehra, Livemint report.
  • [Sep 22] Amid US-India blooming ties, Washington prepares to take down Indian air defence systems, EurAsian Times report.
  • [Sep 23] Government likely to order 36 more Rafale fighter jets, The Economic Times report.

Tech and Elections

  • [Sep 20] Social media companies raise concerns over Election Commission’s voluntary code of ethics, Medianama report.

Internal Security: J&K

  • [Sep 16] Supreme Court says normalcy to return to Kashmir but with national security in mind, India Today report.
  • [Sep 16] Farooq Abdullah booked under Public Safety Act, committee to decide duration of arrest: report, Financial Express report.
  • [Sep 17] Amnesty’s report on the (mis)use of Public Safety Act in J&K counters the govt’s narrative, Youth ki Awaaz report.
  • [Sep 18] China says Kashmir issue may not be a ‘major topic’ during Modi-Xi meet, Livemint report.
  • [Sep 19] In Pakistan-held Kashmir, growing calls for independence, The New York Times report.
  • [Sep 20] Kashmir residents say they are being charged by telcos despite no service, The Hindu report.
  • [Sep 20] UN Chief could discuss Kashmir issues at UNGA: UN spokesman, The Economic Times report.
  • [Sep 20] How military drones are becoming deadly weapons across the globe, The Economic Times report.
  • [Sep 22] Modi’s Digital India comes crashing down in Kashmir’s longest ever internet gag, The Wire report; The Hindu report.
  • [Sep 23] No clampdown in Kashmir, only communication line of terrorists stopped: Army Chief Bipin Rawat, India Today report.

Internal Security: NRC

  • [Sep 16] Those declared foreigners cannot file NRC appeal, say Assam govt, Hindustan Times report.
  • [Sep 18] NRC in Haryana, The Tribune report.
  • [Sep 18] NRC is an internal exercise, sovereign right of a country: EAM Jaishankar, Outlook report.
  • [Sep 18] Government will implement NRC across the country: Amit Shah, The Economic Times report.; Times of India report.
  • [Sep 21] NRC Officials issue public advisory against collection of identification documents, Guwahati Plus report.
  • [Sep 22] NRC-exluded Gurkhas not to approach foreigners’ Tribunals, seek empowered panel, The Hindu report; Times of India report.
  • [Sep 14] Final Assam NRC list, with 1.9 million exclusions, published online, Hindustan Times report.

National Security Law

  • [Sep 17] Pulwama to Aug 5: Delhi HC indicted govt for PSA arrests – in 80 pc cases, Financial Express report.
  • [Sep 16] What is the Public Safety Act under which Farooq Abdullah has been detained? News Nation report.
  • [Sep 16] 52 years on, still no sign of national defence university, The Times of India report.
  • [Sep 16] NSA Doval gets national security, foreign policy as PMO defines roles of top officials, The Asian Age report.

Big Tech

  • [Sep 15] Facebook VP Nick Clegg says India’s policies will decide the fate of the internet, Financial Express report.
  • [Sep 17] Facebook Establishes Structure and Governance for an Independent Oversight Board, Facebook Newsroom announcement; Medianama report.
  • [Sep 19] Facebook expands definition of terrorist organization to limit extremism, The New York Times report.
  • [Sep 22] Facebook is experimenting ith AI that lets you digitally get dressed, The Source report.
  • [Sep 23] Google braces for landmark global privacy ruling, Bloomberg report.

Telecom/5G

  • [Sep 16] 5G spectrum auction this year or in early 2020: Telecom Minister RS Prasad, Medianama report.
  • [Sep 20] TRAI opens consultation process for mergers and transfers in telecom sector, Medianama report.
  • [Sep 23] Indian masses have to wait 5-6 years to get true 5G experience, ET Telecom report.

More on Huawei

  • [Sep 17] Facing US ban, Huawei emerging as stronger tech competitor, The Hindu Business Line report, The Diplomat report.
  • [Sep 18] Huawei’s big test will be trying to sell a device with no Google apps outside China, Quartz report.
  • [Sep 18] Huawei users at risk as US blacklist cuts access to shared data on new cyber threats, Forbes report.
  • [Sep 20] Huawei makes sizeable 5G progress, bags 60 contracts: Ken Hu, The Economic Times report.
  • [Sep 21] Huawei unveils 5G training center in UK, ET Telecom report.

AI and Emerging Tech

  • [Sep 14] Artificial intelligence only goes so far in today’s economy, says MIT study, Forbes report.
  • [Sep 16] The US Govt will spend $1 bn on AI next year – not counting the Pentagon, Defense One report.
  • [Sep 18] Facial recognition systems to debut at Pune airport by 2020: report, Medianama report.
  • [Sep 18] AI stats news: AI is actively watching you in 75 countries, Forbes report.
  • [Sep 18] The Intel community ants to identify people from hundreds of yards away, Defense One report.
  • [Sep 19] Google setting up AI lab ‘Google Research India’ in Bengaluru, Entrackr report.
  • [Sep 20] India is planning a huge China-style facial recognition program, The Economic Times report.

Opinions and Analyses

  • [Sep 15] Nitin Pai, Livemint, The geopolitical profile of India tracks the economy’s trajectory.
  • [Sep 16] Paul Ravindranath, Tech Circle, Inclusion in technology is a compelling economic and business case.
  • [Sep 16] Markandey Katju, The Hindu, The litmus test for free speech.
  • [Sep 16] Vishal Chawla, Analytics India Magazine, What India can take away from Google’s settlement on employees’ freedom of expression.
  • [Sep 16] Editorial, Times of India, All talk: Fate of national defence university shows apathy towards defence modernisation.
  • [Sep 16] Jeff Hussey, Forbes, The gap between strong cybersecurity and demands for connectivity is getting massive.
  • [Sep 16] Kai Sedgwick, Bitcoin.com, How crypto became a gamblers paradise.
  • [Sep 17] Ajai Shukla, Business Standard, In picking strategic partners, the defence ministry isn’t spoilt for choice.
  • [Sep 17] Anthony Pfaff, Defense One, The Saudi-Oil attacks aren’t game changing. The Show how the Game has changed.
  • [Sep 17] Kayla Matthews, Security Boulevard, Who’s financially responsible for cybersecurity breaches?
  • [Sep 17] Anirudh Gotety, ET Markets, Check crypto trade, ban won’t help.
  • [Sep 17] PS Ahluwalia, Livemint, Rafale will add heft to IAF’s deterrence capabilities.
  • [Sep 17] Lorand Laksai, Privacy International, How China is supplying surveillance technology and training around the world.
  • [Sep 18] Tabish Khair, The Hindu, In Kashmir, shaking the apple tree.
  • [Sep 18] Catrin Nye, BBC News, Live facial recognition surveillance ‘must stop’ .
  • [Sep 18] Privacy International, the EU funds surveillance around the world: here’s what must be done about it.
  • [Sep 18] Joshua P Meltzer and Cameron F. Kerry, Brookings Institution, Cybersecurity and digital trade: Getting it right.
  • [Sep 19] Lt Gen HS Panag, The Print, Amit Shah’s political aim to recover PoK is not backed by India’s military capacity.
  • [Sep 20] Rifat Fareed, Al Jazeera, Farooq Abdullah’s arrest leaves India with few allies in Kashmir.
  • [Sep 22] Air Marshal (retd) M Matheswaran, Deccan Herald, Time for structural reforms, modernisation.

[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. 

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 15-22] CCG’s Week in Review: Curated News in Information Law and Policy

The National Investigation Agency Act was amended by Parliament this week, expanding its investigation powers to include cyber-terrorism; FaceApp’s user data privacy issues; and the leaked bill to ban cryptocurrencies— presenting this week’s most important developments in law and tech.

Aadhaar

  • [July 15] Govt plans Aadhaar based identification of patients to maintain health records, Live Mint report; The Indian Express report.
  • [July 15] Petition in Delhi HC seeking linking of Aadhaar with property documents, Live Mint report.
  • [July 15] Government stops verification process using Aadhaar for driving license, The Economic Times report.
  • [July 15] Government stops verification process using Aadhaar for driving license: Nitin Gadkari, ET Auto report.
  • [July 18] Will Aadhaar interchangeability for ITR make PAN redundant? Live Mint report.
  • [July 18] Govt floats idea for Aadhaar-like database for mapping citizen health, Business Standard report; Money Control report; Inc42 report.
  • [July 19] Linking Aadhaar with Voter ID— Election Commission to decide within weeks, The Print report; India Legal analysis.
  • [July 21] Mumbai man fights against linking Aadhaar to salary account, The Quint report.
  • [July 21] Violating SC rules, matrimonial site sells love, marriage using Aadhaar data, National Herald report.
  • [July 22] Large cash deposits may soon need Aadhaar authentication, Times of India report; Money Control report.

Right to Information

  • [July 19] Bill to amend RTI law introduced in Lok Sabha amid opposition, India Today report.

Free Speech

  • [July 18] Ajaz Khan of Big Boss fame arrested by Mumbai Police for TikTok video, The Asian Age report; DNA India report.
  • [July 19] Guwahati HC grants anticipatory bail to poets accused of writing communally charged poetry on Assam citizenship crisis, Live Law report.

Internet Governance

  • [July 16] MeitY to finalise Intermediary Liability rules amendment by month end, Medianama report; Inc42 report.

Data Protection and Data Privacy

  • [July 17] Canada probing data theft at military research center: reports, Business recorder report.
  • [July 17] BJP raises issue of privacy breach by tech devices in Rajya Sabha, BJD demads more funds, News 18 report.
  • [July 17] TMC MPs protest outside Parliament in Delhi, demand to bring Data Protection Law, DNA India report.
  • [July 17] Democrats issue warnings against viral Russia-based face-morphing app ‘FaceApp’, NPR report.
  • [July 18] Government notice to Tiktok, Helo; asks to answer 21 questions or face ban, Gadgets Now report; Medianama report; Business insider report.
  • [July 18] Singapore data protection enforcement guide released, Asia Business law Journal report.
  • [July 18] Irish Data Protection Commission issues advice over FaceApp privacy concerns, RTE report.
  • [July 18] Govt admits to data leak of unemployment figures ahead of May announcement in Rajya Sabha, terms the issue ‘serious’, Firstpost report.
  • [July 19] From bad to worse: PM Modi’s office has asked IT Ministry to keep a close eye on TikTok, India Times report.
  • [July 20] Equifax near $700 million settlement of data breach probes: WSJ, AL Jazeera report.
  • [July 21] Jio backs data protection; highlights future growth areas like agriculture, healthcare and education, The Economic Times report.

Data Localisation

  • [July 19] Firms exploring Telangana to set up data centres, The Hindu report.
  • [July 22] Bytedance starts building local data centre in India after lawmakers complain of data privacy, Entrackr report.
  • [July 22] China’s ByteDance to store Indian data locally after MPs raise concerns on privacy, national security, ET Tech report; Outlook report.
  • [July 22] Jio backs data localization to stave off cyberattacks, ET Tech report; Medianama report.

Digital India

  • [July 15] India lags peers in tech skills: Coursera study, ET Telecom report.
  • [July 16] WiFi on the go: Government pushes to keep Bharat connected, ET Telecom report.
  • [July 17] BMTC wants to reboot its IT plan, ET tech report.
  • [July 19] How improved infrastructure and tech firms are changing game development in India, ET Tech report.

Digital Payments and E-Commerce

  • [July 14] How women are sidelined in India’s e-commerce growth, ET Tech report.  
  • [July 17] Digital payment firms write to Government, asking compensation for losses incurred due to ‘zero’ merchant fee, Latestly report.
  • [July 22] How an in-house e-commerce platform Leaf Era has revolutionsed government procurement, ET Tech report.
  • [July 22] Aditya Birla Payments Bank to shut down due to “unanticipated developments in business landscape”, Medianama report.

Cryptocurrency

  • [July 15] Hacked crypto exchange Bitpoint discovers more millions are missing, Coin Desk report.
  • [July 15] India: Leaked draft bill would ban all crypto except ‘Digital Rupee’, Coin Telegraph report.
  • news to those Swiss authorities, Business Insider report.
  • [July 16] US says cryptocurrency is a national security issue, The New Indian Express report.
  • [July 16] Bitcoin and crypto suddenly branded a national security issue, Forbes report.
  • [July 16] Crypto a security threat, instrument for illicit activities: Trump admin, Business Standard report.
  • [July 17] Facebook said its Libra cryptocurrency will be regulated by Swiss authorities – but that was
  • [July 17] Making sense of chaos? Algos scour social media for clues to crypto moves, ET Markets report
  • [July 20] Cryptokart: Another Indian crypto exchange shuts doen operations, Coin Telegraph report.
  • [July 22] Crypto-attacks are rising in Asia—and cybersecurity AI may be the best way to fight the threat: Darktrace, Business Insider report.

Emerging Tech

  • [July 13] Facial recognition tech is growing stronger, thanks to your face, New York Times report.
  • [July 19] Is there a tug of war between Niti Aayog, IT Ministry on artificial intelligence project? India Today report.

Big Tech

  • [July 15] Tech giants to face US hearings on anti-trust, cryptocurrency, ET Telecom report.
  • [July 15] Amazon Web Services still on pole for $10bn defence cloud deal after Oracle case crashes, DataEconomy.com report.
  • [July 16] Google accused of ripping off digital ad technology in US lawsuit, ET Telecom report.
  • [July 19] EU opens investigation into anti-competitive conduct of Amazon: Will it face heat in India too? Entrackr report.

Telecom/5G

  • [July 17] Govt working on revival of BSNL: Minister tells Lok Sabha, The Hindu Business Line report.
  • [July 19] Make in India: Only half of country’s 268 cellphone makers stay afloat, Financial Express report.

More on Huawei

  • [July 16] The US Congress wants to block the Trump administration from weakening Huawei restrictions, The Verge report.
  • [July 17] US-China talks stuck in rut over Huawei, The Wall Street Journal report.
  • [July 19] Two-thirds of Canadians reject closer ties to China and want Huawei banned from 5G networks, poll says, South China Morning Post report.
  • [July 20] White House to host meeting with tech executives on Huawei ban: report, Business Standard report.  

Cybersecurity

  • [July 15] Use Indian IPRs to ensure telecom network security: Trade group. ET Telecom report.
  • [July 15] Indian IT managers facing budget crunch for cybersecurity, Live Mint report
  • [July 16] Your WhatsApp, Telegram files can be hacked: Symantec, ET Telecom report.
  • [July 16] IT companies tightening salary budgets, leveraging variable pay for niche skills, ET Tech report.
  • [July 17] Druva acquires hybrid data protection form CloudLanes, The Economic Times report.
  • [July 17] Indian Army launches massive crackdown on personnel violating its cybersecurity norms, The Print report.
  • [July 19] NSO spyware targets phones to get data from Google, Facebook, iCloud: Report, Medianama report.
  • [July 20] New bills on cybersecurity, crime against women soon: Union Minister, India Today report; The Indian Express report.
  • [July 21] An entire nation just got hacked, CNN report.
  • [July 22] Fix Rogue audits; guard Indian data; bulletproof 5G: India’s new cybersecurity chief’s Vision 2020, ET Prime report.
  • [July 22] Fake FaceApp software may infect your device, says global cybersecurity company Kaspersky Lab, New Nation report.

Tech and Elections

  • [July 14] New election systems use vulnerable software, AP News report.

Tech and Law Enforcement

  • [July 12] Revealed: This is Palantir’s Top-Secret User Manual for Cops, Vice Motherboard report.
  • [July 22] WhatsApp traceability case: Details of data requests made by Tamil Nadu Govt to social media companies, Medianama report.

Tech and Military

  • [July 14] French jetpack man flyboards up Champs-Elysees for Paris Parade, RFI report.
  • [July 15] Dassault offset money to help in skill training: FM Nirmala Sitharaman, Money Control report. Economic Times report.
  • [July 16] Modi Govt to buy Pilatus trainer aircraft following corruption charges, to ban Swiss defence firm for one year, OpIndia report.
  • [July 16] If India chooses F-21, it will plug into ‘world’s largest fighter plane ecosystem’: Lockheed Martin, The Economic Times report.
  • [July 17] AI has a bias problem and that can be a big challenge in cybersecurity, CNBC report
  • [July 17] IAF on spares buying spree, The Quint report.
  • [July 19] Lockheed Martin identifies 200 potential Indian partners, Hindustan Times report.
  • [July 18] Navy to buy Rs. 1,589 crore satellite from ISRO, The Economic Times report.
  • [July 18] Indian MoD issues RFP for heavyweight torpedoes for Kalvari-class submarines, Jane’s 360 report.
  • [July 18] Rafale will provide IAF strategic deterrence: Defence Ministry, Money Control report
  • [July 19] US F-35, poster child for ineptitude, inefficiency, The Middle East Monitor report.
  • [July 19] South African Council to collaborate with Indian defence industry, Outlook India report.
  • [July 20] DRDO carries out a dozen successful summer trials of NAG anti-tank missile, ANI report.
  • [July 21] IAF Pilots could soon fly Tom Cruise;s fighter jet from Top Gun Maverick, News 18 report.
  • [July 21] India to forge ahead with Russia accord despite US threat of sanctions, DNA India report.

National Security Legislation

  • [July 15] Lok Sabha passes bill that gives more powers to NIA, Live Mint report, ANI report.
  • [July 15] Lok Sabha passes NIA Amendment Bill to give more power to anti-terror agency; here’s all you need to know, Business Insider report.
  • [July 17] What is the National Investigation Agency Bill and why is it in contention?, Money Control report.
  • [July 17] Rajya Sabha passes National Investigation Agency Amendment Bill 2019, Live Mint report; Outlook India report.
  • [July 18] Cabinet asks finance panel to consider securing non-lapsable funds for defence, The Indian Express report; Financial Express report.
  • [July 20] New bills on cybersecurity, crime against women soon: Union Minister, India Today report; The Indian Express report.

Opinions and Analyses

  • [July 11] Ryan Gallagher, The Intercept, How US Tech giants are helping build China’s Surveillance state.
  • [July 15] Jemima Kelly, Financial Express, Trump v Crypto: rage against the obscene.
  • [July 15] Ravi Shanker Kappor, News 18 Opinion, Cost of not carrying out economic reforms: Acute shortage of funds for military modernisation.
  • [July 16] Jayshree Pandya, Forbes, Nuances of Aadhaar: India’s digital identity, identification system and ID.
  • [July 16] Binoy Kampark, International Policy Digest, The UN’s free speech problem.
  • [July 16] K Satish Kumar, DNA India, Need more clarity on data bill.
  • [July 16] Abhishek Banerjee, Swarajya, Richa Bharti: The Free Speech Hero India Needs.
  • [July 17] Ananth Krishnan, The Print, Three reasons why it’s not Huawei or the highway for India’s 5G future.
  • [July 17] Rajesh Vellakat, Financial Express, Personal Data Protection Bill: Will it disrupt our data ecosystem?
  • [July 17] Nouriel Roubini, Live Mint Opinion, Seychelles-based BitMEX and the great crypto heist.
  • [July 17] Tim O’Reilly, Quartz, Antitrust regulators are using the wrong tools to break up Big Tech.
  • [July 18] Tiana Zhang, Jodi Wu, Yue Qiu and Richard Sharpe, Mondaq, Newly released draft measures on data security management strengthen China’s data protection framework.
  • [July 18] Gwyn D’Mello, India Times, If you worry about FaceApp and not your Facebook and Aadhaar, you have bigger problems.
  • [July 18] Sue Halpern, The New Yorker, How Cyber Weaqpons are changing the landscape of modern warfare.
  • [July 19] TV Mohandas Pai and Umakant Soni, Financial Express, An AI innovation engine for New India.
  • [July 20] Amit Cowshish, The Tribune, Indo-US defence trade not free from encumbrances.
  • [July 20] Umberto Sulpasso, Eurasia Review, Domestic Knowledge Product: Enhancing Wealth, Welfare and National Security—Analysis.
  • [July 20] Tiffancy C Li, The Atlantic, FaceApp makes today’s privacy laws look antiquated.
  • [July 20] Tom Robinson, Venture Beat, Crypto can prevent money laundering better than traditional finance.
  • [July 21] Vimal Kumar Kashyap, The Pioneer, 5G to usher in fourth industrial revolution.
  • [July 21] Michael Ashley, Forbes, It’s time to fight back for data sovereignty.
  • [July 22] Vidushi Marda, The Hindu, Facial recognition is an invasive and inefficient tool.

The Supreme Court’s Free Speech To-Do List

Written by members of the Civil Liberties team at CCG

The Supreme Court of India is often tasked with adjudicating disputes that shape the course of free speech in India. Here’s a roundup up of some key cases currently before the Supreme Court.

Kamlesh Vaswani vs. Union of India

A PIL petition was filed in 2013 seeking a ban on pornography in India. The petition also prayed for a direction to the Union Government to “treat watching of porn videos and sharing as non-bailable and cognizable offence.”

During the course of the proceedings, the Department of Telecommunications ordered ISPs to block over 800 websites allegedly hosting pornographic content. This was despite the freedom of expression and privacy related concerns raised before the Supreme Court. The Government argued that the list of websites had been submitted to the DoT by the petitioners, who blocked the websites without any verification. The ban was revoked after much criticism.

The case, currently pending before the Supreme Court, also presented implications for the intermediary liability regime in India. Internet Service Providers may claim safe harbor from liability for content they host, as long as they satisfy certain due diligence requirements under Sec. 79 of the IT Act, read with the Information Technology (Intermediaries Guidelines) Rules, 2011. After the Supreme Court read down these provisions in Shreya Singhal v. Union of India, the primary obligation is to comply with Court orders seeking takedown of content. The petition before the Supreme Court seeks to impose an additional obligation on ISPs to identify and block all pornographic content, or risk being held liable. Our work on this case can be found here.

Sabu Mathew George vs. Union of India

This is a 2008 case, where a writ petition was filed to ban ‘advertisements’ relating to pre-natal sex determination from search engines in India. Several orders have been passed, and the state has now created a nodal agency that would provide search engines with details of websites to block. The ‘doctrine of auto-block’ is an important consideration in this case -in one of the orders the Court listed roughly 40 search terms and stated that respondents should ensure that any attempt at looking up these terms would be ‘auto-blocked’, which raises concerns about intermediary liability and free speech.

Currently, a note has been filed by the petitioners advocate, which states that search engines have the capacity to takedown such content, and even upon intimation, only end up taking down certain links and not others. Our work on this case can be found on the following links – 1, 2, 3.

Prajwala vs. Union of India

This is a 2015 case, where an NGO (named Prajwala) sent the Supreme Court a letter raising concerns about videos of sexual violence being distributed on the internet. The letter sought to bring attention to the existence of such videos, as well as their rampant circulation on online platforms.

Based on the contents of the letter, a suo moto petition was registered. Google, Facebook, WhatsApp, Yahoo and Microsoft were also impleaded as parties. A committee was constituted to “assist and advise this Court on the feasibility of ensuring that videos depicting rape, gang rape and child pornography are not available for circulation” . The relevant order, which discusses the committee’s recommendations can be found here. One of the stated objectives of the committee was to examine technological solutions to the problem – for instance, auto-blocking. This raises issues related to intermediary liability and free speech.

Call for Applications – Civil Liberties

Update: Deadline to apply extended to January 15, 2018! 

The Centre for Communication Governance at the National Law University Delhi (CCG) invites applications for research positions in its Civil Liberties team on a full time basis.

About the Centre

The Centre for Communication Governance is the only academic research centre dedicated to working on the information law and policy in India and in a short span of four years has become a leading centre on information policy in Asia. It seeks to embed human rights and good governance within communication policy and protect digital rights in India through rigorous academic research and capacity building.

The Centre routinely works with a range of international academic institutions and policy organizations. These include the Berkman Klein Center at Harvard University, the Programme in Comparative Media Law and Policy at the University of Oxford, the Center for Internet and Society at Stanford Law School, Hans Bredow Institute at the University of Hamburg and the Global Network of Interdisciplinary Internet & Society Research Centers. We engage regularly with government institutions and ministries such as the Law Commission of India, Ministry of Electronics & IT, Ministry of External Affairs, the Ministry of Law & Justice and the International Telecommunications Union. We work actively to provide the executive and judiciary with useful research in the course of their decision making on issues relating to civil liberties and technology.

CCG has also constituted two advisory boards, a faculty board within the University and one consisting of academic members of our international networks. These boards will oversee the functioning of the Centre and provide high level inputs on the work undertaken by CCG from time to time.

About Our Work

The work at CCG is designed to build competence and raise the quality of discourse in research and policy around issues concerning civil liberties and the Internet, cybersecurity and global Internet governance. The research and policy output is intended to catalyze effective, research-led policy making and informed public debate around issues in technology and Internet governance.

The work of our civil liberties team covers the following broad areas:

  1. Freedom of Speech & Expression: Research in this area focuses on human rights and civil liberties in the context of the Internet and emerging communication technology in India. Research on this track squarely addresses the research gaps around the architecture of the Internet and its impact on free expression.
  2. Access, Markets and Public Interest: The research under this area will consider questions of access, including how the human right to free speech could help to guarantee access to the Internet. It would identify areas where competition law would need to intervene to ensure free, fair and human rights-compatible access to the Internet, and opportunities to communicate using online services. Work in this area will consider how existing competition and consumer protection law could be applied to ensure that freedom of expression in new media, and particularly the internet, is protected given market realities on the supply side. We will under this track put out material regarding the net neutrality concerns that are closely associated to the competition, innovation, media diversity and protection of human rights especially rights to free expression and the right to receive information and particularly to substantive equality across media. It will also engage with existing theories of media pluralism in this context.
  3. Privacy, Surveillance & Big Data: Research in this area focuses on surveillance as well as data protection practices, laws and policies. The work may be directed either at the normative questions that arise in the context of surveillance or data protection, or at empirical work, including data gathering and analysis, with a view to enabling policy and law makers to better understand the pragmatic concerns in developing realistic and effective privacy frameworks. This work area extends to the right to be forgotten and data localization.

Role

CCG is a young and continuously evolving organization and the members of the centre are expected to be active participants in building a collaborative, merit led institution and a lasting community of highly motivated young researchers.

Selected applicants will ordinarily be expected to design and produce units of publishable research with Director(s)/ senior staff members. They will also be recommending and assisting with designing and executing policy positions and external actions on a broad range of information policy issues.

Equally, they will also be expected to participate in other work, including writing opinion pieces, blog posts, press releases, memoranda, and help with outreach. The selected applicants will also represent CCG in the media and at other events, roundtables, and conferences and before relevant governmental, and other bodies. In addition, they will have organizational responsibilities such as providing inputs for grant applications, networking and designing and executing Centre events.

Qualifications

The Centre welcomes applications from candidates with advanced degrees in law, public policy and international relations.

  • All candidates must preferably be able to provide evidence of an interest in human rights / technology law and / or policy / Internet governance/ national security law as well. In addition, they must have a demonstrable capacity for high-quality, independent work.
  • In addition to written work, a project/ programme manager within CCG will be expected to play a significant leadership role. This ranges from proactive agenda-setting to administrative and team-building responsibilities.
  • Successful candidates for the project / programme manager position should show great initiative in managing both their own and their team’s workloads. They will also be expected to lead and motivate their team through high stress periods and in responding to pressing policy questions.

However, the length of your resume is less important than the other qualities we are looking for. As a young, rapidly-expanding organization, CCG anticipates that all members of the Centre will have to manage large burdens of substantive as well as administrative work in addition to research. We are looking for highly motivated candidates with a deep commitment to building information policy that supports and enables human rights and democracy.

At CCG, we aim very high and we demand a lot of each other in the workplace. We take great pride in high-quality outputs and value individuality and perfectionism. We like to maintain the highest ethical standards in our work and workplace, and love people who manage all of this while being as kind and generous as possible to colleagues, collaborators and everyone else within our networks. A sense of humour will be most welcome. Even if you do not necessarily fit requirements mentioned in the two bulleted points but bring to us the other qualities we look for, we will love to hear from you.

[The Centre reserves the right to not fill the position(s) if it does not find suitable candidates among the applicants.]

Positions

Based on experience and qualifications, successful applicants will be placed in the following positions. Please note that our interview panel has the discretion to determine which profile would be most suitable for each applicant.

  • Programme Officer (2-4 years’ work experience)
  • Project Manager (4-6 years’ work experience)
  • Programme Manager (6-8 years’ work experience)

A Master’s degree from a highly regarded programme might count towards work experience.

CCG staff work at the Centre’s offices at National Law University Delhi’s campus. The positions on offer are for duration of one year and we expect a commitment for two years.

Remuneration

The salaries will be competitive, and will usually range from ₹50,000 to ₹1,20,000 per month, depending on multiple factors including relevant experience, the position and the larger research project under which the candidate can be accommodated.

Where candidates demonstrate exceptional competence in the opinion of the interview panel, there is a possibility for greater remuneration.

Procedure for Application

Interested applicants are required to send the following information and materials by December 30, 2017 to ccgcareers@nludelhi.ac.in.

  1. Curriculum Vitae (maximum 2 double spaced pages)
  2. Expression of Interest in joining CCG (maximum 500 words).
  3. Contact details for two referees (at least one academic). Referees must be informed that they might be contacted for an oral reference or a brief written reference.
  4. One academic writing sample of between 1000 and 1200 words (essay or extract, published or unpublished).

Shortlisted applicants may be called for an interview.

 

An update on Sabu Mathew George vs. Union of India

By Arpita Biswas

Today, the Supreme Court heard the ongoing matter of Sabu Mathew George vs. Union of India. In 2008, a petition was filed to ban advertisements endorsing sex-selective abortions from search engine results. Advertisements endorsing sex selective abortions are illegal under Section 22 of the PNDT Act (The Pre-conception and Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques Act), 1994 Act. Several orders have been passed over the last few years, the last of which was passed on April 13th, 2017. Following from these orders, the Court had directed the Centre to set up a nodal agency where complaints against sex selective ads could be lodged. The Court had also ordered the search engines involved to set up an in-house expert committee in this regard. The order dated April 13th stated that compliance with the mechanism in place would be checked hereinafter. Our blog posts covering these arguments and other issues relevant to search neutrality can be found here and here.

Today, the petitioners counsel stated that the nodal agency in question should be able to take suo moto cognisance of complaints, and not just restrict its functioning to the method prescribed previously. Currently, individuals can file complaints with the nodal agency, which will then be forwarded to the search engine in question. The relevant part from the order (16/11/16) is as follows:

“…we direct that the Union of India shall constitute a “Nodal Agency” and give due advertisement in television, newspapers and radio by stating that it has been created in pursuance of the order of this Court and anyone who comes across anything that has the nature of an advertisement or any impact in identifying a boy or a girl in any method, manner or mode by any search engine shall be brought to its notice. Once it is brought to the notice of the Nodal Agency, it shall intimate the concerned search engine or the corridor provider immediately and after receipt of the same, the search engines are obliged to delete it within thirty-six hours and intimate the Nodal Agency. Needless to say, this is an interim arrangement pending the discussion which we have noted herein-before…”

On the respondent’s side, the counsel stated that over the last few months, Microsoft had only received one complaint and Yahoo had not received any complaints, arguing that the nodal agency  would not have to take on a higher level of regulation. Further on the issue of suo moto cognisance, they stated that it would be untenable to expect a government agency to ‘tap’ into search results. As per the counsel, the last order had only contemplated checking with the compliance of the nodal agency system, and with constituting an expert committee, all of which had been established.

The petitioners stated that they would need more time and would suggest other measures for effective regulation.

The next hearing will take place on the 24th of November, 2017.

Arpita Biswas is a Programme Officer at the Centre for Communication Governance at National Law University Delhi

Understanding the ‘NetzDG’: Privatised censorship under Germany’s new hate speech law

By William James Hargreaves

The Network Enforcement Act

The Network Enforcement Act (NetzDG), a law passed on the 30th of June by the German Government operates to fine social media companies up to 50 million Euros – approximately 360 crore rupees – if they persistently fail to remove hate speech from their platform within 24 hours of the content being posted. Companies will have up to one week where the illegality of the content is debatable.

NetzDG is intended to hold social media companies financially liable for the opinions posited using their platform. The Act will effectively subject social media platforms to the stricter content standards demanded of traditional media broadcasters.

Why was the act introduced?

Germany is one the world’s strictest regulators of hate speech. The State’s Criminal Code covers issues of defamation, public threats of violence and incitement to illegal conduct, and provides for incarceration for Holocaust denial or inciting hatred against minorities. Germany is a country sensitive to the persuasive power of oratory in radicalizing opinion. The parameters of these sensitivities are being tested as the influx of more than one million asylum seekers and migrants has catalyzed a notably belligerent public discourse.

In response to the changing discourse, Facebook and a number of other social media platforms consented in December 2015 to the terms of a code of conduct drafted by the Merkel Government. The code of conduct was intended to ensure that platforms adhered to Germany’s domestic law when regulating user content. However, a study monitoring Facebook’s compliance found the company deleted or blocked only 39 percent of reported content, a rate that put Facebook in breach of the agreement.

NetzDG turns the voluntary agreement into a binding legal obligation, making Facebook liable for any future failure to adhere to it’s terms.

In a statement made following the law’s enactment, German Justice Minister Heiko Maas declared ‘With this law, we put an end to the verbal law of the jungle on the Internet and protect the freedom of expression for all… This is not a limitation, but a prerequisite for freedom of expression’. The premise of the position of Minister Maas, and the starting point for the principles that validate the illegality of hate speech, is that verbal radicalization is often time the precursor to physical violence.

As the world’s predominant social media platform, Facebook has curated unprecedented, and in some respects, unconditioned access to people and their opinions. With consideration for the extent of Facebook’s access, this post will focus on the possible effects of the NetzDG on Facebook and it’s users.

Facebook’s predicament

  • Regulatory methods

How Facebook intends to observe the NetzDG is unclear. The social media platform, whose users now constitute one-quarter of the world’s population, has previously been unwilling to disclose the details of their internal censorship processes. However given the potential financial exposure, and the sustained increase in user content, Facebook must, to some extent, increase their capacity to evaluate and regulate reported content. In response, Facebook announced in May that it would nearly double the number of employees tasked with removing content that violated their guidelines. Whether this increase in capacity will be sufficient will be determined in time.

However, and regardless of the move’s effectiveness, Facebook’s near doubling of capacity implies that human interpretation is the final authority, and that implication raises a number of questions: To what extent can manual censorship keep up with the consistent increase in content? Can the same processes maintain efficacy in a climate where hate speech is increasingly prevalent in public discourse? If automated censorship is necessary, who decides the algorithm’s parameters and how sensitive might those parameters be to the nuances of expression and interpretation? In passing the NetzDG, the German Government has relinquished the State’s authority to fully decide the answer to these questions. The jurisdiction of the State in matters of communication regulation has, to a certain extent, been privatised.

  • Censorship standards

Recently, an investigative journalism platform called ProPublica claimed possession of documents purported to be internal censorship guidelines used at Facebook. The unverified guidelines instructed employees to remove the phrase ‘migrants are filth’ but permit ‘migrants are filthy’. Whether the documents are legitimate is to some extent irrelevant: the documents provide a useful example of the specificity required where the aim is to guide one person’s interpretation of language toward a specific end – in this instance toward a correct judgment of legality or illegality.

Regardless of the degree of specificity, it is impossible for any formulation of guidelines to cover every possible manifestation of hate speech. Thereby interpreting reported content will necessarily require some degree of discretion. This necessity begs the question: to what extent will affording private entities discretionary powers of censorship impede freedoms of communication? Particularly where the discretion afforded is conditioned by financial risk and a determination is required within a 24-hour period.

  • Facebook’s position

Statements made by Facebook prior to the legislation’s enactment expressed concern for the effect the Act will have on the already complex issue of content moderation. ‘The draft law provides an incentive to delete content that is not clearly illegal when social networks face such a disproportionate threat of fine’ a statement noted. ‘(The Act) would have the effect of transferring responsibility for complex legal decisions from public authorities to private companies’. Facebook’s reservation is telling: the company’s reluctance to adopt the role of moderator to the extent required alludes to the potential consequences of the liability imposed by the Act. 

The problem with imposing this form of liability

 Any decision made by a social media platform to censor user content will be supported by the anti-discrimination principles prescribed by the NetzDG. However, where the motivation behind discretionary decision-making shifts away from social utility towards financial management the guiding considerations become efficiency and risk minimisation. Efficiency and risk minimisation in this instance requires Facebook to either (i) increase capacity, which in turn results in an increased financial burden, or (ii) adopt guidelines that minimise exposure.

Seemingly the approach adopted by Facebook is to increase capacity. However, Facebook’s concerns that the Act creates financial incentives to adopt guidelines that minimise exposure are significant. Such concerns demonstrate an understanding that requiring profit motivated companies to do the work of the State within a 24-hour time frame will necessarily require a different set of parameters than those imposed on the regulation of oral hate speech. If Facebook, in drafting and applying those parameters, decides to err on the side of caution and, in some instances, censor otherwise legal content, that decision will have directly infringed the freedom of communication enjoyed by German citizens.

A democracy must be able to accommodate contrasting opinions if it purports to respect rights of communication and expression. Conversely, limitations on rights enjoyed may be justified if they benefit the majority. The NetzDG is Germany’s recognition that the nature of online communication – the speed at which ideas promulgate and proliferate, and the disconnect between comment and consequence created by online anonymity – require the existing limitations on the freedom of communication be adapted. Whether instances of infringement, are warranted in the current climate is a difficult and complicated extension of the debate between the utility of regulating hate speech and the corresponding consequences for the freedoms of communication and expression. The decision to pass the NetzDG suggests the German Government considers the risk of infringement is acceptable when measured against the consequences of unfettered hate speech.

Public recognition that NetzDG poses a risk is important. It is best practice that within a democracy, any new limit to liberty, oral or otherwise, be questioned and a justification given. Here the justification seems well-founded. However the answers to the questions posed by sceptics may prove telling as Germany positions itself at the forefront of the debate over online censorship.

(William is a student at the University of Melbourne and is currently interning at CCG)