[August 19-26] CCG’s Week in Review: Curated News in Information Law and Policy

The ECI sought a legal mandate to link Aadhaar with Voter IDs; Facebook approached the Supreme Court over PILs demanding Aadhaar linkage with social media accounts; MEITY invited ‘select stakeholders’ for private consultations over the data protection bill; and a new panel to review defence procurement practices in India was constituted by the Defense Minister Rajnath Singh, who also hinted at dropping India’s no first use policy – presenting this week’s most important developments in law and tech.       

Aadhaar

  • [Aug 19] EC seeks statutory baking to collect voters’ Aadhaar numbers, The Times of India report.
  • [Aug 19] Facebook approaches SC over Aadhaar linkage pleas, The Deccan Herald report; Firstpost report.
  • [Aug 20] Aadhaar to ensure farmers, not middlemen, get benefits, The Economic Times report.
  • [Aug 21] SC cautions govt on linking Aadhaar with social media, ET Tech report.
  • [Aug 21] Election Commission writes to law ministry, seeks legal powers to collect Aadhaar numbers for cleaning up voters’ list, Firstpost report.
  • [Aug 22] Aadhaar may be used to verify SECC beneficiaries, The Economic Times report.
  • [Aug 23] Centre to put QR code on fishermen’s Aadhaar cards to secure sea route: Amit Shah, The Times of India report.
  • [Aug 24] Aadhaar-social media linking: 10 things to know about the ongoing issue, India Today report.
  • [Aug 24] Govt to allow Aadhaar-based KYC for domestic retail investors; amendments to PMLA to be issues, Firstpost report.
  • [Aug 25] Linking Aadhaar with electoral rolls will create Delhi, Mumbai Analyticas: Justice Srikrishna, The Week report.

Digital India

  • [Aug 19] Indian companies at a disadvantage in tenders, says Commerce ministry, Money Control report; The Times of India report.
  • [Aug 21] India’s IT Industry turns to flexi staffing to keep its bench from idling, ET Tech report.
  • [Aug 22] Indian IT Firms step up patent filings as they look to monetize their IP, ET Tech report.
  • [Aug 26] Time to revisit FTAs to fire up electronics: Ravi Shankar Prasad, ET Rise report.

E-Commerce

  • [Aug 21] Government hopes for an Ecommerce GeM, ET Tech report.
  • [Aug 23] Technology reforming India’s retail businesses, ET Tech report.

Digital Payments

  • [Aug 22] RBI to allow e-mandates on card payments from September 1, Medianama report.
  • [Aug 22] Digital payment execs met Finance Ministry officials to discuss demerits of removing MDR: report, Medianama report.

Cryptocurrencies

  • [Aug 18] US lawmakers to visit Switzerland to discuss Facebook’s Libra, Cointelegraph report.
  • [Aug 19] Israeli Bitcoiners petition banks to disclose crypto policies, Cointelegraph report.
  • [Aug 21] Authorities seize crypto mining equipment from nuclear power plant in Ukraine, Coin Desk report.
  • [Aug 23] $100K Crypto donation to Amazon rainforest charity blocked by BitPay, Coin Desk report.

Internet Governance

  • [Aug 18] Google, Facebook, WhatsApp to be made more accountable under new rules, Financial Express report.

Data Protection 

  • [Aug 19] Google cuts some Android phone data for wireless carriers amid privacy concerns, The Hindustan Times report.
  • [Aug 20] MEITY privately seeks responses to fresh questions on the data protection bill from select stakeholders, Medianama report; ET Tech report; Business Standard report; Inc42 report.
  • [Aug 21] Google, Intel and Microsoft form data protection consortium, Engadget report; The Economic Times report.
  • [Aug 22] Govt working towards tabling data protection bill in winter session, Livemint report; The Economic Times report
  • [Aug 24] India needs to draw a distinction between personal and impersonal data: Ravi Shankar Prasad, Inc42 report.
  • [Aug 25] Data Protection Bill need of the hour, says Justice BN Srikrishna, Inc42 report.

Social Media

  • [Aug 19] Social media accounts need to be linked with Aadhaar to check fake news, SC told, Livemint report.
  • [Aug 20] Twitter and Facebook crack down on accounts linked to Chinese campaign against Hong Kong, The Guardian report; Defense One report.
  • [Aug 20] Facebook’s new tool lets you see which apps and websites tracked you, the New York Times report; ET Tech report.
  • [Aug 21] China cries foul over Facebook, Twitter block of fake accounts, ET Tech report.
  • [Aug 23] Facebook removes accounts linked to Myanmar military, Medianama report.

Freedom of Speech

  • [Aug 20] Islamic preacher Zakir Naik banned from giving public speeches in Malaysia, India Today report.
  • [Aug 20] Zakir Naik apologizes to Malaysians for racial remarks, India Today report.
  • [Aug 21] Shehla rashid spreading fake news tro incite violence in Jammu and Kashmir: Indian army, DNA India report.
  • [Aug 24] IAS Officer Kannan Gopinathan resigns over ‘lack of freedom of expression’, The Hindu report; Scroll.in report.
  • [Aug 24] From colonial era to today’s India, a visual history of national security laws used to crush dissent, Sroll.in report.

Internal Security: Status of J&K

  • [Aug 19] Kashmir: now for the legal battle, India Today report.
  • [Aug 20] Amit Shah meets NSA, IB Chief on J&K, NDTV report.
  • [Aug 21] Armed forces to get human rights and vigilance cell after Rajnath Singh approves restructure, News 18 report.
  • [Aug 23] Opposition leaders demand release of Mehbooba Mufti, Omar Abdullah, The Economic Times report.
  • [Aug 23] Blackout is collective punishment against people of J&K: UN Human Rights experts call on India to end communications shutdown, Medianama report.
  • [Aug 25] Amid massive clampdown, uneasy calm in volatile south Kashmir, The Tribune report.

Tech and Law Enforcement

  • [Aug 20] Flaws in cellphone evidence prompt review of 10,000 verdicts in Denmark, The New York Times report.
  • [Aug 21] Supreme Court directs Madras HC not to pass final order in WhatsApp traceability case, Entrackr report.
  • [Aug 21] Facebook, WhatsApp and the encryption dilemma – What India can learn from the rest of the world, CNBC TV 18 report.
  • [Aug 21] WhatsApp’s response to Dr. Kamakoti’s recommendation for traceability in WhatsApp, Medianama report.
  • [Aug 25] Curbs on Aadhaar data use delayed murder probe: Cops, Deccan Herald report.
  • [Aug 26] End-to-end encryption not essential to WhatsApp as a platform: Tamil Nadu Advocate General, Medianma report.

Tech and National Security

  • [Aug 18] New Panel to review defence procurement procedure to strengthen ‘Make in India’, Bharat Shakti report; Jane’s 360 report.
  • [Aug 18] RSS affiliate sees Chinese telecom firms as security risk for India, The Hindu report.
  • [Aug 18] Traders body calls for boycott of Chinese goods, seeks upto 500% import duty, Livemint report.
  • [Aug 19] India looks to acquire military equipment on lease amidst budget squeeze, Defence Aviation Post report.
  • [Aug 20] India, France likely to finalize roadmap for digital, cyber security cooperation, The Economic Times report; The Indian Express report.
  • [Aug 20] ‘Make in India’ Software Defined Radio: ‘Mother’ of all solutions for tactical communications of armed forces, Financial Express report.
  • [Aug 20] Need to reduce dependence on foreign manufacturers to modernise Indian Air Force, says defence minister Rajnath Singh, Firstpost report.
  • [Aug 20] Strike total at all 41 ordnance factories, say unions on day one, The Hindu Business Line report; Deccan Herald report.
  • [Aug 21] Government neglect my force HAL to crash land, Deccan Herald report.
  • [Aug 21] Cabinet Secretariat raps MoD, MEA for not involving NSA, The Economic Times report.
  • [Aug 21] Ajay Kumar appointed new Defence Secretary, The Economic Times report.
  • [Aug 21] Ordnance factories continue strike, MoD calls their products ‘high cost, low quality’, India.com report.
  • [Aug 24] It’s about national security: Arun Jaitley on how 2019 elections were different from 2014, India Today report.
  • [Aug 24] Gaganyaan: Russian space suits, French medicine for Indian astronauts? The Hindu report.
  • [Aug 24] Ordnance strike: Unions to take a call on Centre’s proposal on Aug 24, The Hindu Business Line report.
  • [Aug 25] Will India change its ‘No First Use’ policy? The Hindu report.
  • [Aug 21] French Eye: india to launch 8-10 satellites with France as part of a ‘constellation’ for maritime surveillance, The Pioneer report.

Cybersecurity

  • [Aug 19] Global Cyber Alliance launches cybersecurity development platform for Internet of Things (IoT) Devices, Dark reading report.
  • [Aug 19] The US Army is struggling to staff its cyber units: GAO, Defense One report.
  • [Aug 20] A huge ransomware attack messes with Texas, Wired report.
  • [Aug 21] Experts call for cybersecurity cooperation at the Beijing Cybersecurity Conference, Xinhua News report.
  • [Aug 23] Enterprises are increasingly adopting AI, ML in cybersecurity: Experts, Livemint report.
  • [Aug 24] Anomaly detection as advanced cybersecurity strategy, iHLS report.
  • Aug 24] Telangana preparing an army of cyber warriors, Telangana Today report.

Internet of Things

  • [Aug 22] ITI-Bhubaneswar introduces Internet of Things curriculum, The New Indian Express report.
  • [Aug 22] Will We Ever Have A Full Industrial Internet Of Things, Forbes report.
  • [Aug 24] IKEA Smart Home Investment Could Be Boost The Internet Of Things Needs, Forbes report.

Artificial Intelligence and Emerging Tech

  • [Aug 20] Use artificial intelligence for tax compliance: Direct tax panel, Business Standard report.
  • [Aug 20] Artificial intelligence and the world of tax litigation, Financial Express report.
  • [Aug 21] Intel launches first artificial intelligence chip Springhill, The Hindu report; News18 report.
  • [Aug 22] Facial recognition attendance systems for teachers to be installed in Gujarat’s govt schools, Medianama report.
  • [Aug 26] Yogi Govt Plans To Install Artificial Intelligence System In 12,500 Public Sector Buses, Business World report.

Telecom/5G

  • [Aug 24] PMO clears BSNL-MTNL revival, merger off the table, The Economic Times report.

Huawei

  • [Aug 19] Trump reiterates Huawei as ‘national security threat’, Cnet report.
  • [Aug 20] Tech giant Huawei slams US administration, calls sanctions politically motivated, India Today report.
  • [Aug 20] US sanctions on Huawei bite, but who gets hurt? Livemint report.
  • [Aug 21] Huawei founder tells staff it faces ‘live or die’ moment, Tech Radar report.
  • [Aug 22] Aadhaar-Social Media linking case: Next SC hearing to take place on 13 September, Firstpost report.
  • [Aug 22] China telcos weigh sharing 5G network to cut costs, potentially hurting Huawei, Reuters report.
  • [Aug 23] Huawei puts a price for Trump’s moves: $10 billion, The Hindu Business Line report
  • [Aug 25] trump, UK’s Johnson discuss Huawei on G7 sidelines, Reuters report.

Opinions and Analyses

  • [Aug 19] Vishal Krishna, Your Story, Data privacy is a fundamental right, but is the Indian startup ecosystem prepared for new protection law?
  • [Aug 19] Nitin Pai, Livemint, Appointing a chief of defence staff would just be the first step.
  • [Aug 19] Priyanjali Malik, The Hindu,  An intervention that leads to more questions.
  • [Aug 19] Abhijit Iyer-Mitra, The Print, India needs tips from Israel on how to handle Kashmir. Blocking network is not one of them.
  • [Aug 19] Ria Singh Sawhney, The Wire, Aadhaar: A Primer to knowing your rights.
  • [Aug 19] Alok Deb, Institute for Defence Studies and Analysis, Finally a CDS for the Indian Armed Forces.
  • [Aug 20] TOI Editorial, Aadhaar Hydra again: EC wants to link voter roll to Aadhaar data, this is unnecessary and risky.
  • [Aug 20] Lt. Gen. Harwant Singh (Retd), The Economic Times, A CDS for the armed forces must come with full play.
  • [Aug 20] Darren Death, Forbes, Is cybersecurity automation the future?
  • [Aug 20] Asit Ranjan Mishra, Livemint, Why New Delhi is turning up the heat on PoK now. 
  • [Aug 21] Financial Express Opinion, Election ID linked to Aadhaar can make votes portable.
  • [Aug 21] Nabeel Ahmed, Read Write, Artificial Intelligence: A tool or a threat to cybersecurity?
  • [Aug 21] Asheeta Regidi, Firstpost, Aadhaar-social media account linking could result in creation of a surveillance state, deprive fundamental right to privacy.
  • [Aug 22] Sanjay Hegde, The Hindu, Sacrificing liberty for national security.
  • [Aug 22] Ahmed Ali Fayyaz, The Quint, Fall of J&K: Real reason – ‘Jamhooriyat, Insaniyat, Kashmiriyat’?
  • [Aug 22] AS Dulat, The Telegraph, Kashmir: The perils of a muscular approach. 
  • [Aug 22] Somnath Mukherjee, The Economic Times, Growth is the biggest national security issue.
  • [Aug 22] K Raveendran, The Leaflet, Aadhaar-social media profile linkage will open pandora’s box.
  • [Aug 22] Mariarosaria Taddeo and Francesca Bosco, World Economic Forum blog, We must treat cybersecurity as a public good, here’s why.
  • [Aug 23] Nikhil Pahwa, Medianama, Against Facebook-Aadhaar linking.
  • [Aug 23] Ilker Koksal, Forbes, The rise of crypto as payment currency.
  • [Aug 24] Kalev Lataru, Forbes, Social media platforms will increasingly define ‘truth’.
  • [Aug 25] Sandeep Unnithan, India Today, South block.
  • [Aug 25] Spy’s Eye, Outlook, Intel agencies need strengthening.
  • [Aug 26] Prasanna S., The Hindu, Privacy no longer supreme.
  • [Aug 26] Sunil Abraham, Business Standard, Linking Aadhaar with social media or ending encryption is counterproductive. 
  • [Aug 26] The Financial Express Opinion, Linking social media to Aahdaar is serious overkill. 

[August 12-19] CCG’s Week in Review: Curated News in Information Law and Policy

This week PM Modi called for the creation of a Chief of Defence staff in his Independence Day Speech; Internet and Communications Shutdown continue in Jammu and Kashmir after a brief reprieve amid fears of violence; Rajasthan faces Internet shutdowns in parts of Jaipur following communal clash; China’s new digital currency is almost up for launch; Maharashtra adopts wider use of blockchain technology – presenting this week’s most important developments in law and tech.   

Internet Shutdown

  • [Aug 13] Jaipur: 24 people injured in communal clash, mobile internet suspended in some areas, Scroll report; Hindustan Times report.
  • [Aug 13] Internet services partially restored in Jammu & Kashmir: Report, Medianama report.
  • [Aug 17] Landline services partially restored in Valley, mobile internet back in 5 Jammu districts, Hindustan Times report.
  • [Aug 18] Mobile Internet services again snapped in Jammu region, The Times of India report.

Internal Security: Current Status of J&K

  • [Aug 18] Ex-defence officers and bureaucrats move SC against Centre’s decision on Article 370, The Economic Times report; The Quint report.
  • [Aug 18] The fear of losing land to outsiders grips Valley, The Tribune report.
  • [Aug 18] 4G internet services to be made operational only after assessing situation: Jammu Divisional Commissioner, ANI News report.
  • [Aug 18] Restrictions Reimposed in Srinagar After Protests, Clashes With Police, The Wire report; the Statesman report.
  • [Aug 18] About 4,000 people arrested in Kashmir since August 5: govt sources to AFP, The Hindu report.
  • [Aug 19] Schools Reopen In Kashmir But Few Children Show Up: 10 Points, NDTV report.
  • [Aug 19] Congress Leaders Deviate From Party Line on Article 370, Hail Centre’s Move in Kashmir, The Wire report.

Tech and National Security

  • [Aug 15] Independence Day 2019: Here are the highlights from PM Modi’s speech, Business Line report.
  • [Aug 15] Major push for military, infra in PM Modi’s I-Day speech: Key takeaways, Business Standard report.
  • [Aug 16] Explained: What is Chief of Defence Staff that PM Modi announced in I-Day speech, India Today report.
  • [Aug 17] Appointment of CDS will boost India’s national security and power projection capabilities, Economic Times report.

Aadhaar

  • [Aug 16] Amend existing laws so we can obtain and use people’s Aadhaar numbers for voter verification, says ECI to Law ministry, Medinama report.
  • [Aug 18] EC seeks legal backing to collect voters’ Aadhaar data to check duplication, Business Standard report.
  • [Aug 19] ‘Voluntary Aadhaar eKYC for bank accounts, mobile, MFs soon’, Times of India report.
  • [Aug 19] SC to consider Facebook’s Aadhaar plea on August 20, Deccan Herald report.

Digital India

  • [Aug 16] India’s battle to catch China in payment apps; country to become more digital, Livemint report.
  • [Aug 17] Top executives of Apple, Samsung, Xiaomi to meet government on August 19, Financial Express report.
  • [Aug 19] Lithuania can be important technology partner for India: Venkaiah Naidu, MoneyControl report.
  • [Aug 19] India to help Bhutan in digital payments, space technology, Hindustan Times report.

Cybersecurity

  • [Aug 13] NIST seeks industry feedback as Internet of Things cybersecurity standards take shape, Federal News Network report.
  • [Aug 14] Cybersecurity Startup Securiti.ai emerges from Stealth with $31 million Investment, ciscomag.com report.
  • [Aug 15] Kaspersky announces new Transparency Centre in Malaysia, Livemint report; Digital News Asia report.
  • [Aug 19] Cybersecurity leader Vectra establishes operations in Asia-Pacific to address growing demand for network detection and response in the cloud, Yahoo Finance report.

Emerging Technology

  • [Aug 14] Huawei starts research on 6G internet, Cnet report.
  • [Aug 14] Google’s soccer-playing A.I. hopes to master the world’s most popular sport, Digital Trends report.
  • [Aug 19] Three UK rolls out 5G home internet access in London, Engadget report.
  • [Aug 19] Cyber Security: Are IoT deployments in India safe from hackers?, Financial Express report.

Blockchain

  • [Aug 12] Reliance AGM: Mukesh Ambani backs blockchain technology; says data is wealth, Business Today report.
  • [Aug 19] Maharashtra to use blockchain technology in agriculture marketing, vehicle registration, DNA report; Cointelegraph report.

Cryptocurrency

  • [Aug 13] China says state Cryptocurrency set to rival Bitcoin is ‘Close’ to Launch, The Independent report.
  • [Aug 14] China’s Digital Currency Is Unlikely to Be a Cryptocurrency, Forbes report.
  • [Aug 14] IAMAI says RBI has no authority to ban cryptocurrencies, The Economic Times report.
  • [Aug 16] Chinese National Cryptocurrency Turns Out Not Being an Actual Crypto, Cointelegraph report.
  • [Aug 17] Cryptocurrency This Week: Supreme Court To Conclude Hearing Next Week, Bitcoin India Investigations And More, Inc42 report.
  • [Aug 17] Mastercard is assembling its own cryptocurrency team, New York Post report.
  • [Aug 18] Facebook’s Calibra cryptocurrency wallet already has competition, Cnet report.
  • [Aug 19] Silvergate Bank Plans to Offer Cryptocurrency-Collateralized Loans, Cointelegraph report.
  • [Aug 19] Binance planning to launch ‘Venus,’ similar to Facebook’s upcoming cryptocurrency Libra, Theblockcrypto.com report.

Huawei

  • [Aug 17] US set to give Huawei another 90 days to buy from American firms, Khaleej Times report.
  • [Aug 18] Trump To Suddenly Throw Lifeline To Huawei, Report Says, Saving Huawei Mate 30 Pro, Forbes report.
  • [Aug 18] Huawei to Trump: “You don’t want us to fight Google.”, EsquireME report.
  • [Aug 19] Trump: ‘I don’t want to do business with Huawei’, AlJazeera report.

Artificial Intelligence

  • [Aug 13] AI fights banana disease, Fruitnet.com report.
  • [Aug 13] TCS’ AI platform Ignio tops $60m revenue mark, The Economic Times report.
  • [Aug 14] Zensar Technologies places its bets on artificial intelligence, The Economic Times report.
  • [Aug 14] Ola ‘acquihires’ artificial intelligence start-up Pikup.ai, Financial Express report.
  • [Aug 14] Wipro launches edge artificial intelligence solutions powered by Intel, Dataquest report; Moneycontrol report.
  • [Aug 15] IT big 3 to offer artificial intelligence as a platform, The Economic Times report.
  • [Aug 15] Google Assistant tops 2019 digital assistance IQ test, but every AI posts gains, Venturebeat report.
  • [Aug 16] Google brings AI to studying with Socratic, ZDNet report.
  • [Aug 16] [Funding alert] AI startup Orbo.ai raises $1.6M from YourNest Ventures, Venture Catalysts, YourStory report.
  • [Aug 16] [Funding alert] Retail AI startup SprintAI raises $500,000 from InMobi co-founder, others, YourStory report.
  • [Aug 18] Small towns in India are powering the global race for artificial intelligence, The Economic Times report.
  • [Aug 18] New consortium aims to make Bengaluru hub for industrial AI, Livemint report.

Surveillance

  • [Aug 16] Data Leviathan: China’s Burgeoning Surveillance State, Human Rights Watch report.
  • [Aug 16] Uganda spends US$126 million on surveillance system with facial recognition from Huawei, South China Morning Post report.
  • [Aug 16] Trump administration reportedly wants to extend NSA phone surveillance program, Cnet report.
  • [Aug 17] White House is pushing to reauthorize law that allows surveillance on Americans’ phone records, salon.com report.

Data Privacy and Protection

  • [Aug 15] How Data Privacy Laws Can Fight Fake News, JustSecurity.org report.
  • [Aug 16] What The Great Hack tells us about data privacy, Livemint report.
  • [Aug 17] Facebook’s Bizarre Response To Privacy Scandals? New Pop-Up Cafés, Forbes report.
  • [Aug 18] Why Blockchain Technology is Important for Data Privacy, Bitcoinist.com report.

E-Commerce

  • [Aug 15] Alibaba results beat estimates on cloud, e-commerce growth, Economic Times report.
  • [Aug 16] E-commerce sector looks to self-regulate, Flipkart, Amazon not on board, CNBCTV 18 report.
  • [Aug 18] Fintech firm Suvidhaa plans e-commerce foray, Economic Times report.
  • [Aug 19] Why social e-commerce is set to become the next big thing in China, TechWire Asia report.
  • [Aug 19] China e-commerce sites block sales of protest gear to Hong Kong, The Japan Times report.

Opinions and Analyses

  • [Aug 13] Editorial, The Guardian, The Guardian view on surveillance: Big Brother is not the only watcher now.
  • [Aug 13] Anand Venkatanarayanan, Medianama, Dr Kamakoti’s solution for WhatsApp traceability without breaking encryption is erroneous and not feasible.
  • [Aug 14] Gladys Kong, Forbes, Why Stricter Data Privacy Laws Would Benefit The Data Industry.
  • [Aug 15] Tuhina Joshi and Vijayant Singh, Yourstory, Independence Day: When will India be free of data privacy issues?
  • [Aug 15] Shrija Agrawal, Livemint, ‘Cashless’ and the politics of innovation.
  • [Aug 15] Jeffrey Ton, Forbes, The Skeptic’s Guide To Assessing Artificial Intelligence.
  • [Aug 15] Matt Ocko and Alan Cohen, TechCrunch, Artificial intelligence can contribute to a safer world.
  • [Aug 15] Jaclyn Jaeger, Compliance Week, Data privacy vs. national security: Moving the conversation forward.
  • [Aug 15] Jinoy Jose P, Business Line, The Cheatsheet: How Internet shutdowns hurt the economy.
  • [Aug 15] Editorial, Hindustan Times, India’s tryst with freedom.
  • [Aug 16] Editorial, The Hindu, Words and deeds: On Modi’s I-Day vision.
  • [Aug 16] Editorial. The Indian Express, Injustice system.
  • [Aug 17] Guillermo M. Luz, The Inquirer, Apec’s new data privacy rules.
  • [Aug 17] Pravin Sawhney, The Tribune, Where does CDS fit in?
  • [Aug 18] Editorial, Hindustan Times, Fashioning India’s nuclear posture.
  • [Aug 18] Enrique Dans, Forbes, Will China’s New Cryptocurrency Make Virtual Cash Respectable?
  • [Aug 18] Stephanie Hare, The Guardian, Facial recognition is now rampant. The implications for our freedom are chilling.
  • [Aug 19] Thomas Hemphill, NWI Times, GUEST COMMENTARY: Artificial Intelligence and the antitrust challenges.
  • [Aug 19] Ravi Shankar Prasad, The Indian Express, Valley’s new dawn: An era of development and inclusion beckons.
  • [Aug 19] Ahmed Ali Fayyaz, The Quint, Massacre of J&K Laws and Constitution but No Blood on the Streets.

[June 24-July 1] CCG’s Week in Review: Curated News in Information Law and Policy

With the G20 Summit in Osaka easing trade tensions between the US and China, India has seen a week of developing policy positions on data localisation, tech startups and the fate of telecom providers  — presenting this week’s most important developments in law and tech.

Aadhaar 

  • [June 24] New Aadhaar regulations by Government to bring it back in full force, will be voluntary, India Today report.
  • [June 24] Aadhaar bill introduced amid opposition protests, The Hindu report; Live Mint report.
  • [June 25] Bill on Aadhaar tabled, ‘doesn’t violate privacy’, The Tribune report.
  • [June 29] One nation, One ration card’ scheme from July 1, 2020, The Hindu report.

Internet Shutdown

  • [June 28] Myanmar: Internet Shutdown Risks Lives, Human Rights Watch report.

Free Speech

  • [June 27] Modi Government stops advertising in The Times Group, The Hindu and The Telegraph news paper, PGurus report;
  • [June 28] Modi Government freezes ads placed in Times of India, The Hindu and The Telegraph, The Wire report; The Deccan Herald report.

Data Protection

  • [June 24] UAE data protection law, similar to GDPR, likely landing this year, Tech Radar report.
  • [June 27] Home, IT Ministries discuss data protection bill, The Hindu report.
  • [June 27] National Centre being planned to hold and manage all public data, The Economic Times report; The Quint report.

Data Localisation

  • [June 26] Data storage rules out of e-commerce policy, Live Mint report; CNBC TV18 report; Medianama report.
  • [June 26] Government to decide if data issues need to be out of e-commerce policy, The Economic Times report.
  • [June 27] Personal data storage: Government not in a mood to dilute data localisation rule, Financial Express report.
  • [June 28] India stands by data localisation at G-20 summit, US opposes it, ETtech report.
  • [June 28] Data Localisation: What India can dictate, and what she can’t, Business Today report.
  • [June 29] India surrenders to US pressure on ‘data localisation’: Piyush Goyal and RBI send out confusing signals, National Herald report.

E-Commerce

  • [June 26] Not ready for global e-tail rules, India to tell G-20, ET Tech report.
  • [June 26] India to come out with national e-comm policy within 12 months: Piyush Goyal, ETtech report.
  • [June 27] The E-Commerce disaster that never was, The Economic Times report.
  • [June 30] Draft e-comm policy, data protection may figure at India-EU meet in Brussels on July 4, Your Story report.

Digital India

  • [June 26] Digital literacy drive needs more funds: MeitY, The Hindu Business Line report.
  • [June 27] RBI Committee recommends setting up Universal Enterprise ID, linkage across individual and enterprise PAN, Medianama report.
  • [June 27] MeitY expenditure under Digital India at Rs. 3,328 cr in 2018-19: Ravi Shankar Prasad, The Economic Times report.
  • [June 27] SEBI approves DVRs for tech startups, ETtech report
  • [June 28] Indian startups cheer differential voting rights, ETtech report.
  • [June 28] Nitin Gadkari proposed Alibaba like platform for MSME sector, Entrackr report.
  • [June 30] India’s OTT market will grow at 21.8% CAGR, PwC report says, ET Telecom report.

Cybersecurity

  • [June 25] Digital India’s response readiness against cyber attacks is frail, lack of online security awareness biggest weakness, Firstpost report.
  • [June 27] To avoid Huawei like situation, India plans desi WhatsApp for official communication ET Telecom report; Medianama’s take.
  • [June 28] Infosys cyber security unit sees rising demand as threats mount, ET Tech report.
  • [June 29] US FDA warns of cybersecurity risk to certain Medtronic insulin pumps. Live Mint report.
  • [June 29] Indian manufacturing industry at high cyber risk, The Asian Age report.
  • [June 29] Average DNS attack cost rises by 19% to $814,150 in APAC, ET Telecom report.
  • [July 1] As cyber attacks increase, Indian IT clients seek stricter contracts, more audits, ET Tech report.
  • [July 1] China increases cybersecurity industry development, Global Times report.

Telecom/5G

  • [June 24] DoT may move SC against Airtel, Tata Tele merger, The Economic Times report.
  • [June 26] Broadband forum seeks lower 5G spectrum prices, change in auction design, ET Telecom report.
  • [June 26] Government gets 6 proposals for 5G trials, including Huawei, The Economic Times report.
  • [June 27] Lack of 4G, staff costs slow down BSNL, MTNL, ET Telecom report.
  • [June 27] DoT, MeitY eye EU ‘toolbox’ to address 5G-related concerns, The Economic Times report.
  • [June 28] Telcos’ health needs to be vetted before 5G pricing, ET Tech report.
  • [June 28] Modi, Trump discuss India-US collaboration in 5G tech, ET Tech report.
  • [June 30] DoT will move cabinet with BSNL, MTNL package: Ravi Shankar Prasad, ET Telecom report.
  • [July 1] Ericsson, Nokia assure telcos of speedy 5G rollout, ET Telecom report.

More on Huawei

  • [June 24] Huawei offers to sign ‘no-backdoor’ pact with India govt, telcos to underline security commitment: CEO, The Economic Times report.
  • [June 24] UK’s approach to Huawei is flawed warns Ericsson’s US boss, Financial Times report.
  • [June 26] Nokia warns UK over using rival Huawei’s 5G kit, BBC report.
  • [June 26] Huawei claims 50 commercial 5G deals globally amid uncertainty in India, ET Telecom report.
  • [June 26] US-China trade war in 10 dates, ET Telecom report.
  • [June 26], Huawei’s telecom equipment is more likely to have flaws than rivals’ claims report by US cybersecurity company Finite State, Tech Radar report.
  • [June 26] India, US to discuss Huawei’s role in 5G trials, The Economic Times report.
  • [June 26] India may let Huawei conduct 5G trials defying trump ban, International Business Times report.
  • [June 27] Tech companies find legal ways around Huawei blacklist, ET Telecom report.
  • [June 27] Medianama’s Huawei roundup: Promise of ‘no backdoor’ pact, 5G trial proposal and more.
  • [June 27] Huawei personnel worked with China’s military on research projects, The Economic Times report.
  • [June 28] How the Huawei issue affects India, The Economic Times report.
  • [June 28] Nokia’s CTO slams Huawei after ‘potential backdoors’ found in 55% of its devices, Forbes report.
  • [June 29] Nokia distances itself from CTO comments about Huawei, Tech Radar report.
  • [June 28] As Trump and Xi talk trade. Huawei will loom large, The New York Times report.
  • [June 29] Trump surprises G20 with Huawei concession: US companies can sell to Huawei, Forbes report; Live Mint report.
  • [June 30] Huawei lifeline shows Trump prefers business deals over cold war, Live Mint report.
  • [July 1] Google gets nod to license Android for Huawei, ET Telecom report.

Big Tech

  • [June 26] Google accused of working to prevent Trump return in 2020, ET Tech report.
  • [June 26] Next Google Chrome browser extension to increase data protection, Mediapost report; Forbes report, Medianama report.
  • [June 26] Google and University of Chicago sued over data sharing, The New York Times report.
  • [June 28] Italy stings Facebook with $1.1 million fine for Cambridge Analytica data misuse, TechCrunch report.
  • [June 29] Google may have leveraged Android unfairly, says CCI, Inc42 report.
  • [June 30] Spotify leaking use data with music labels: Report, ET Telecom report.

Emerging Tech/ AI

  • [June 22] White House updated national artificial intelligence strategy, Defense One report.
  • [June 24] Tech Mahindra unveils AI-based Humanoid HR for its Noida facility, Business Standard report.
  • [June 25] IT firms are buying niche firms to grow in emerging areas like IOT, ET Tech report.
  • [June 27] Commission-appointed panel publishes recommendations for artificial intelligence research. Science business report. [Read the full report of the High Level Expert Group appointed by the European Commission here].

Cryptocurrencies

  • [June 26] Facebook’s crypto currency faces pre-G20 examination, Livemint report.
  • [June 27] Crypto exchange Koinex wraps up operations; laments apathy of regulators and banks, Entrackr report, ETtech report, Medianama report.

Tech and Law Enforcement

  • [June 25] Government surveillance at alarming levels: Forrester Global Map of Privacy Rights and Regulations, The Hindu Business Line report.
  • [June 28] Madras HC allows Internet freedom Foundation (IFF) to intervene to oppose plea for linking Aadhaar with social media accounts, Live Law report; Medianama report.
  • [June 29] Have social media companies helped TN Police combat cyber crimes? Affidavit in Madras HC has answers, Bar&Bench report
  • [June 30] Railway police mulls using Aadhaar to track unidentified victims, The Hindu report; Times of India report.
  • [June 30] War on fake news: Government to roll out guidelines for Google, Facebook, WhatsApp, ISPs, Financial Express report

Tech and Military

  • [June 24] Indian MoD approves procurement of 10 more P-8I aircarft for Indian navy, Jane’s Defense weekly report.
  • [June 26] Russia wants to fool its enemies by making its drones look like owls (Uri style), Newsweek report.
  • [June 26] Tatas may soon join queue for drone clearance from DGCA, ET Tech report.
  • [June 26] 41 pieces of space debris from India’s asat test still in orbit, six weeks after they were supposed to decay according to Harvard astronomer, The Independent report
  • [June 27] Defence minister to review services’ emergency weapon acquisitions for war preparedness, India Today report.
  • [June 27] India progresses import substitution projects under Make-II category, Jane’s Defence Weekly report.
  • [June 28] S-400 Triumf missile deal: India mulls Euro payments for Russian arms to escape US sanctions, Business Today report.
  • [June 28] Euro payment won’t end possibility of US sanctions on S-400 deal: Ex-Indian Defence Adviser, Sputnik International report.
  • [June 30] India signs Rs. 200 crore anti-tank missile deal with Russia, Live Mint report.

Opinions and Analyses

  • [June 23] Julian Vigo, Forbes, How cybersecurity is turning users into security experts.
  • [June 23] Nitin Pai, Live Mint, What it would take for India to become a proper space power,
  • [June 24] Satya Prakash, The Tribune, SC’s flip-flop on free speech.
  • [June 24] Tim Cushing, Tech Dirt (blog), Indian Government uses national security law, bad information to block twitter accounts all over the world.
  • [June 24] Michael Schmitt, Just Security (blog) Top Expert Backgrounder: Aborted US strike, cyber operations against Iran and International Law
  • [June 25] Rohan Choudhary, The Telegraph India, India’s strategic challenges in the near future will be naval, not continental
  • [June 25] Bryan Menegus, Gizmodo, This is how you’re being manipulated (by Big Tech)
  • [June 25] Prannv Dhawan and John Simte, Firstpost, Combating fake news: MEITY should allow legal-flexibility based on social media platforms over one-size-fits-all regulatory approach.
  • [June 25] Alon Muroch, Forbes, What’s preventing crypto from going mainstream?
  • [June 25] Geoffrey S Corn, Lawfare, The aborted Iran strike: the fine line between necessity and revenge,
  • [June 25]  Justin Sherman and Robert Morgus, Lawfare, The Confused US messaging campaign on Huawei.
  • [June 25] Live Mint Opinion, Accept Huawei’s offer.
  • [June 26] Sujan R Chinoy, IDSA Comment, Indo-US Defence Partnership: Future prospects.
  • [June 26] Lt Gen (Retd) DS Hooda, News18, India’s New Defence Cyber Agency Will have to Work Around Stovepipes Built by Army, Navy and Airforce
  • [June 26] Goutam Das and Sonal Khetrapal, Business Today,  Does the amended Aadhaar Bill circumvent Supreme Court’s order?
  • [June 26] Cameron F Kerry and Jon B Morris, The Brookings Institute, Why data ownership is the wrong approach to protecting privacy,
  • [June 27] Anirudh Rastogi and Ramani Ramachandran, ET Tech, RBI needs to overcome its fear of legitimate cryptocurrency usage
  • [June 27] Anrnab Dey, The Quint, What is India doing with all its big data?
  • [June 28] Samiksha Goel, Deccan Herald, 5G world will need new cybersecurity approach.
  • [June 28] Pravin Sawhney, The Wire, Nobody Should be surprised if this year’s defence budget hardly sees a boost.
  • [June 28] PK Vasudeva, The Statesman, A three-in-one position.
  • [June 28] Suhasini Haidar, The Hindu, At G20, India stands with developing world- not US, Japan- on 5G and data.
  • [June 29] Robert Farley, The Diplomat, Getting the world to comply with the US Huawei ban won’t be easy.
  • [June 28] Sidhant Kumar, The Economic Times (blog), Protection, or protectionist?
  • [June 29] Siddharth Sivaraman, The Sunday Guardian, Industrial development is a must for defence modernisation.
  • [June 30] Ephrat Livni, Quartz, Facebook’s Libra is spurring central banks’ interest in issuing crytpocurrency.
  • [June 30] Kamal Davar, The Sentinnel/ The Quint,  Security Agenda for Modi 2.0: A national security doctrine
  • [June 30] Arpita Mukherjee, The Pioneer, India should join e-commerce talks at WTO.
  • [June 30] Keshav Murugesh, The Hindu Business Line, Getting to the Digital Summit.
  • [June 30] Shobha Gupta, Bar & Bench, Section 66A: When a celebrated judgment of the Supreme Court cannot be implemented by the police.
  • [June 30] Nishant Sirohi, The Leaflet, AI Technologies: Putting human rights in the forefront.
  • [June 30] Eline Chivot, Financial Times, One year on, GDPR needs a reality check.
  • [June 29] Robert D Atkinson, Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, Trump was right to (Temporarily) Lift the Huawei Export Ban.
  • [June 30] Samir Saran and Richard Rahul Verma, The Print, Here’s how US and India can be major defence partners and take lead over Russia and China.

TechWars: 5G technology comes to India

In our last post we talked about the Huawei ban and the impact it has on India and our national security agenda. The Huawei proceedings are a culmination of a series of political oppositions between states which have a profound impact on many countries, including our own. While the Huawei incident has been described as a next generation cold war that stems from political and economic considerations, it is catalysed by the struggle for technological superiority.

5G or the Fifth-Generation mobile network is the successor to the current 4G technology pervasive in present-day information and communication technology (ICT) infrastructure. While the range of use remains the same, with 5G technology also being used to make and receive calls and texts, and to get online, the scope is drastically different. 5G technology is much faster than 4G, allowing for data streaming almost 100 times faster than current 4G rates.

In addition to finally having lag-free Netflix for your commute, this technology is also essential in powering many essential emerging tech such as driverless cars, machine-to-machine communication, etc. The 5G spectrum is wider in nature, which allows for more devices to connect to the super-fast internet, allowing for the IOT (Internet of Things) and other allied technologies such as AI and to finally take off. The lower latency results in a more stable connection.

Current propagation of 5G

While USA won the 4G race being the first country to offer LTE network, it appears that it is lagging behind on the 5G front. 4G technology offered the US many macroeconomic opportunities, however, 5G is expected to provide more. An examination of the spending patterns of countries on research and development of 5G technology shows that many countries have outspent US in their pursuit for 5G, with China spending nearly USD 24 billion more and opening 350,000 new sites for development, as compared to the US’s 30,000. China’s five-year economic plan further indicates a planned USD 400 billion 5G related investment, which gives China a substantial advantage in the 5G race.

Countries have started the 5G roll out in phases across the globe, with South Korea’s SK telecom claiming to have rolled out the first commercial use of 5G in April 2019. China has issued licenses to three of its operators, who could start rolling out public use as early as this year. Currently it’s being tested across the country in various location before a full-scale release. In addition, many countries have started the process to adopt 5G. Despite the ban, Huawei has received commercial contracts from over 30 countries for installing 5G technology.

British telco EE network became the first to offer 5G network in the UK, beating its rival Vodafone by just a few months. 5G network is also live in some cities in the US, however many companies, like Verizon only offer a home-broadband version of it, not a commercial one available to the public at large.

5G in India

In order to implement 5G in India, the first step would be to examine and identify the correct bands which would be auctioned to the telecom providers. The telecom ministry is currently working on identifying these bands, and is expected to finish the process in time for India to roll out 5G along with the rest of the world. The delay in the allocation process can also partly be attributed to the elevation of the 5G issue to the Prime Minister’s Office due to Huawei’s involvement in the 5G trials and the subsequent allegations of security threats levelled against them. While the PMO did not decide to rule out Huawei completely, it has decided to approach a ‘wait and watch’ approach to the situation and see how other countries react to these allegations.

The auction is expected to be the largest so far, and could happen as early as September- October this year. The principal challenge to spectrum allocations is TRAI’s recommendation on 5G spectrum prices. The Indian telecom providers have compared the 5G spectrum valuation in South Korea, to that of India which is almost 7 times higher and have considered these prices to be unsustainable.

The current status of the auction remains uncertain, while the prices are considered to be prohibitively high, it cannot be ignored that this technology would also result in significant gains of market share to companies who are able to implement them in a timely fashion. The expected revenue from 5G is estimated to be about USD 1 trillion dollars, which is instrumental in helping India achieve its goal of becoming a USD 5 trillion dollar economy. Due to the potential economic benefits, 5G has made its way into the limelight for the present government.

Despite opposition from leading telecom players such as Vodafone, who have advocated for delaying auction of 5G to post 2020, citing the adequacy of current 4G technology for present day tech and IOT needs, the potential of India’s 5G market has attracted many big players. Korean telco Samsung visited India to engage in talks with Indian telecom marketers, including Reliance Jio about the supply of 5G network equipment. This visit was in light of the uncertainty caused by the US’ ban on Huawei, the largest telecom provider in the world.

In conclusion, we can see that while telecom operators are somewhat weary of the spectrum allocation, 5G is making its way to your smartphones, with or without Huawei. With the advances in data consumption and internet usage in the country, the 5G spectrum would be a boon for the tech industry allowing better internet for research into AI, machine-to-machine communication, and IoT. But most importantly, it means that we can look forward to lag-free Netflix in our near future.

India’s Latest National Security Dilemma: The Huawei Ban and NAM(O) 2.0

Over two weeks after the ban on Huawei was imposed by the United States on suspicions of facilitating espionage on behalf of China, the newly appointed Minister of Electronics and IT, Ravi Shankar Prasad acknowledged that there are ‘complex security concerns’ around the deployment of Huawei’s technology in India. His statement comes soon after the TRAI’s statement emphasizing the need to indigenize telecom infrastructure in the aftermath of the US ban on Huawei.

The Chinese tech giant has been at the centre of controversy even before May 16, when President Trump signed an Executive Order entitled ‘Securing the Information and Communications Technology and Services Supply Chain’, declaring a national cybersecurity emergency, placing Huawei on the ‘Entity List’ of the US Department of Commerce under Supplement 4 to Part 744 of its  Export Administration Regulations. This implies that any US persons and corporate entities that continue to do business with Huawei would face heavy penalties that could potentially include criminal sanctions. Owing to the design of export control laws in the United States, the enforcement of the ban in the United States has extraterritorial effects. According to a Reuters report, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned allies of potential difficulties in sustained cooperation and data sharing with the United States if they continued to use Huawei equipment despite the ban.

Huawei in the United States

Criminal charges pending against Huawei in US courts include serious allegations of corporate espionage, bank fraud, theft of trade secrets and most importantly, conspiracy to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (50 U.S.C. 1701 et seq) (IEEPA) by export of telecommunications services provided by a US citizen to Iran without permission from the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). It was on the grounds of violation of the IEEPA that the US successfully urged Canada to detain Huawei’s CFO, Meng Wanzhou, who is now awaiting potential extradition to the United States for prosecution for the crimes alleged against Huawei.

Some in the US national security community have even argued that this could potentially be an abuse of the President’s emergency powers under the IEEPA, the legislation that enables the US to‘financially asphyxiate targeted countries, entities or individuals’ that pose ‘any unusual and extraordinary threat’ to US national security interests. Others, based on Trump’s statement that saw Huawei being potentially included in a future trade deal with China, take the view that the ban is no more than a leveraging tool to get concessions from the Chinese Government. Yet more view it as a measure designed purely to protect US telecom industries from Chinese competition in the 5G race, to prevent the US from losing its edge in communications technologies.

A major reason for the rapid rise of Huawei on the global tech scene has been its competitive prices and convenient payment plans. Thanks to the ban, rival companies like Cicso, Ericsson, Nokia and Samsung do indeed, stand to gain significant advantages and grab bigger market shares, but their prices so far have not been able to compete with those offered by their Chinese counterparts.

Despite this ‘emergency’, a week after President Trump signed an Executive Order, the restrictions were eased by the US Department of Commerce to give American companies a 90 days window to adapt to the new restrictions. In the time that has passed, several tech companies have severed business ties with Huawei. Google was the first to respond, cutting off Huawei’s access to its Android platform, restricting existing users’ access to future security patches and updates. Microsoft, Intel, Qualcomm, Xilinx, Broadcomm, Panasonic and British Chip manufacturer ARM soon followed suit, causing serious disruptions in the global ICT supply chain, especially in its smartphone manufacturing. However, the smart phone business is only a small part of Huawei’s overall products range. It is noteworthy that as on date, Huawei controls 28% of the global marketshare in telecom equipment. In the first quarter of 2019, Huawei surpassed Apple to become the world’s second largest manufacturer of smartphones. Much to the worry of American telcos, some forecasts indicate that China is expected to represent 40% of all global 5G connections by 2025.

Several reports indicate that Huawei had long been preparing for impending restrictions from the US Government. Reportedly, it is developing its own OS ‘Ark’ and has challenged the National Defence Authorization Act 2018, which bans US Government agencies from procuring products manufactured by Huawei or ZTE.

China’s Retaliation

Although Huawei’s founder and CEO, Ren Zhengfei has opposed retaliation by the Chinese Government against Apple or other American tech companies, it remains to be seen how China will respond in the ongoing trade tensions with the US. Some changes to set up a mechanism that allows for higher degree of protection to its own national security interests have already been introduced in Chinese cyber security law in response. China has also threatened the creation of a ‘sweeping blacklist of US firms’ in retaliation. Reports indicate that the export of rare earth minerals to China by the US could be the next frontier in these ‘hostilities’.

In addition, the Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe came out to explicitly state that Huawei was not part of its military, several Chinese officials have refuted US claims alleging that the decision to blacklist Huawei was unsupported by any evidence. Unsurprisingly though, Russia has rolled out the red carpet for Huawei, where it signed a deal to develop 5G infrastructure for Russian telecom provider MTS.

However, the most important piece of Chinese legislation for India to consider is the Chinese intelligence law passed in 2017 that makes it obligatory upon Chinese companies and other entities to share onshore and offshore data with the Government as and when called upon in the interest of national security.

Huawei in India

Some have argued that India would need to conclusively prove allegations of assisting the Chinese government in carrying out cyber espionage before taking any concrete steps to ban Huawei, otherwise India risks undermining its strategic autonomy and playing into the hands of the US. However, the argument seems focused exclusively on the rapid introduction and operationalization of 5G in India and ignores India’s previous run-ins with Huawei’s technology.

Telecom companies through the Cellular Operators Association of India have sought clarification from the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) on its stance qua usage of Huawei-manufactured equipment by telecom operators. Such a clarification is much needed, considering that Huawei has been kept on a see-saw since September 2018, when the US first started attempting to persuade allies to wall out Huawei in the 5G race. In India, Huawei was first excluded, then extended an invitation which was later rescinded. Huawei India’s CEO Jay Chen recently made a statement demanding a ‘level playing field’ for Huawei in the 5G trials, reiterating the request of the Chinese Government from December of last year.

Presently, telecom operators including Airtel and Vodafone use Huawei equipment in many of their circles in India. While the TRAI has highlighted the need for indigenizing of telecom infrastructure, the truth of the matter is that as on date, almost 60% of the Government’s telecom equipment, including especially that of BSNL is supplied by the Chinese companies ZTE and Huawei. This is despite the fact that BSNL’s allegations against Huawei of hacking into its networks were investigated in 2014. This makes the argument that requires conclusive proof of malicious activity difficult to sustain, if the security of the existing infrastructure has already been compromised in the past.

Huawei itself has urged the DoT for an expedited decision on its inclusion in the 5G trials, reportedly after having answered all queries posed to it by the DoT. The DoT appears divided on the issue – with one section that views it as an issue of not just technology, but also one of security with geopoilitcal ramifications, and the other seemingly inclined towards Huawei’s inclusion to maintain the competition and mitigate risks of relying on supplies from European vendors alone.

The New Berlin Wall and India’s Posturing

At the moment, India seems to have been caught in the middle of what has been dubbed as the New Cold War in tech–faced with prohibitively high prices on the one side, and a risk of Chinese cyber espionage on the other. On this point, some take the view that ‘what is cheap now may not be good in the long run’. National security choices require nations to make difficult trade-offs between economic and strategic goals and considerations, and the contours of the new ‘Great Powers’ relations are radically different to the one that ended with the fall of the Berlin Wall. The New York Times viewed the ban as one that is “about much more than crippling one Chinese tech giant”, and is forcing “nations to make an agonizing choice: Which side of the new Berlin Wall do they want to live on?”

In the collision of tech and trade, foreign policy choices of Governments are now closely intertwined with the commercial interests and health of the domestic telecom and tech industries. Although it is reassuring that India’s telecom minister seems intent on taking ‘a serious look’ at the technological advantage versus security concerns calculus before deciding on Huawei’s inclusion in the upcoming 5G trials, remedial and mitigation measures like reviving MTNL and BSNL services are measures for the long run. However, what makes India the desired location for ‘proxy wars’ in tech is the treasure trove of data that lies beneath the massive subscriber base of over 1.19 billion individuals to telecom services. As for the health of domestic markets, if anything, Indian telecom giants like Reliance Jio that uses 4G equipment manufactured by Samsung, could potentially stand to gain from the move, if Huawei were to be excluded from the Indian market and the 5G trials. It remains to be seen whether such a protectionist measure, following the footsteps of the US, would be introduced by the new Government that has re-risen to power on the promise of strengthening national security. A legitimate concern is the threat of retaliatory pressure tactics from the US if India does fail to do so.

It is notable that India has taken some measures to avoid offending the United States’ declared policies, while the decision on Huawei remains pending. A week after the ban, India stopped importing oil from Iran as well as Venezuela to comply with US sanctions after the US ended exemptions for eight countries including India. More recently, the US revoked India’s preferential trade status under the GSP (Generalised System of Preferences) trade program, alleging that India has not “assured the US that it will provide equitable and reasonable access to its markets”. The US-China trade war presents a similar spectrum of choices to India – while the Ministry of Commerce is mulling over the imposition of ‘retaliatory tariffs’, others take the position that India should cut interest rates to take advantage of the trade war to gain a stronger foothold in both markets.

Against the backdrop of this new political economy of the cybersecurity industry, a new kind of non-alignment seems to be emerging, creating an unmistakable split in traditional alliances between NATO members. Only two of the ‘Five Eyes Alliance’ of intelligence sharing other than the United States – Australia and New Zealand responded quickly by banning Huawei in their respective national jurisdictions. Some European counties, specifically – the UK and Germany, while also remaining mindful of the risks posed by Chinese covert activity through its tech industry that has undeniably acquired a global influence, are seemingly intent on not abandoning Huawei in the design of their 5G infrastructure. Canada too, while juggling the pending extradition of Huawei’s CFO to the US, appears determined to make an independent decision on the 5G question. At the moment, India’s policies seem to just as non-aligned as those of Germany or the United Kingdom – aimed at maintaining the free flow of investments and information while steadily moving towards indigenization of ICT and expansion of markets instead of encouraging protectionism to curb competition.

Until such time that India can completely indigenize the equipment, or alter its telecom equipment procurement policies across the board to exclude obvious threats to the integrity of our cybersecurity infrastructure, India’s choice seems to be a limited to a cybersecurity policy along the lines of the Nehruvian-era doctrine of non-alignment, perhaps with only slight tilt— this time, toward the United States? It would appear that the time is ripe for NaMo 2.0 to revisit the doctrine as NAM 2.0, in a manner that allows India to preserve the security alliance with one side, and an economic partnership to avoid disruptions and price escalations in our ICT supply chain on the other. In other words, the need of the hour is ‘to effectively manage our global opportunities to maximize our choices’ while preserving strategic autonomy.