The Pegasus Hack: A Hark Back to the Wassenaar Arrangement

By Sharngan Aravindakshan

The world’s most popular messaging application, Whatsapp, recently revealed that a significant number of Indians were among the targets of Pegasus, a sophisticated spyware that operates by exploiting a vulnerability in Whatsapp’s video-calling feature. It has also come to light that Whatsapp, working with the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab, an academic research organization with a focus on digital threats to civil society, has traced the source of the spyware to NSO Group, an Israeli company well known both for developing and selling hacking and surveillance technology to governments with a questionable record in human rights. Whatsapp’s lawsuit against NSO Group in a federal court in California also specifically alludes to NSO Group’s clients “which include but are not limited to government agencies in the Kingdom of Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, and Mexico as well as private entities.” The complaint filed by Whatsapp against NSO Group can be accessed here.

In this context, we examine the shortcomings of international efforts in limiting or regulating the transfers or sale of advanced and sophisticated technology to governments that often use it to violate human rights, as well as highlight the often complex and blurred lines between the military and civil use of these technologies by the government.

The Wassenaar Arrangement on Export Controls for Conventional Arms and Dual-Use Goods and Technologies (WA) exists for this precise reason. Established in 1996 and voluntary / non-binding in nature[I], its stated mission is “to contribute to regional and international security and stability, by promoting transparency and greater responsibility in transfers of conventional arms and dual-use goods and technologies, thus preventing destabilizing accumulations.”[ii] Military advancements across the globe, significant among which were the Indian and Pakistani nuclear tests, rocket tests by India and South Korea and the use of chemical warfare during the Iran-Iraq war, were all catalysts in the formulation of this multilateral attempt to regulate the transfer of advanced technologies capable of being weaponized.[iii] With more and more incidents coming to light of authoritarian regimes utilizing advanced western technology to violate human rights, the WA was amended to bring within its ambit “intrusion software” and “IP network surveillance systems” as well. 

Wassenaar: A General Outline

With a current membership of 42 countries (India being the latest to join in late 2017), the WA is the successor to the cold war-era Coordinating Committee for Multilateral Export Controls (COCOM) which had been established by the Western Bloc in order to prevent weapons and technology exports to the Eastern Bloc or what was then known as the Soviet Union.[iv] However, unlike its predecessor, the WA does not target any nation-state, and its members cannot exercise any veto power over other member’s export decisions.[v] Notably, while Russia is a member, Israel and China are not.

The WA lists out the different technologies in the form of “Control Lists” primarily consisting of the “List of Dual-Use Goods and Technologies” or the Basic List, and the “Munitions List”.[vi] The term “dual-use technology” typically refers to technology that can be used for both civilian and military purposes.[vii] The Basic List consists of ten categories[viii]

  • Special Materials and Related Equipment (Category 1); 
  • Materials Processing (Category 2); 
  • Electronics (Category 3); 
  • Computers (Category 4); 
  • Telecommunications (Category 5, Part 1); 
  • Information Security (Category 5, Part 2); 
  • Sensors and Lasers (Category 6); 
  • Navigation and Avionics (Category 7); 
  • Marine (Category 8); 
  • Aerospace and Propulsion (Category 9). 

Additionally, the Basic List also has the Sensitive and Very Sensitive Lists which include technologies covering radiation, submarine technology, advanced radar, etc. 

An outline of the WA’s principles is provided in its Guidelines & Procedures, including the Initial Elements. Typically, participating countries enforce controls on transfer of the listed items by enacting domestic legislation requiring licenses for export of these items and are also expected to ensure that the exports “do not contribute to the development or enhancement of military capabilities which undermine these goals, and are not diverted to support such capabilities.[ix]

While the Guidelines & Procedures document does not expressly proscribe the export of the specified items to non-WA countries, members are expected to notify other participants twice a year if a license under the Dual List is denied for export to any non-WA country.[x]

Amid concerns of violation of civil liberties

Unlike conventional weapons, cyberspace and information technology is one of those sectors where the government does not yet have a monopoly in expertise. In what can only be termed a “cyber-arms race”, it would be fair to say that most governments are even now busily acquiring technology from private companies to enhance their cyber-capacity, which includes surveillance technology for intelligence-gathering efforts. This, by itself, is plain real-politik.

However, amid this weaponization of the cyberspace, there were growing concerns that this technology was being purchased by authoritarian or repressive governments for use against their citizens. For instance, Eagle, monitoring technology owned by Amesys (a unit of the French firm Bull SA), Boeing Co.’s internet-filtering Narus, and China’s ZTE Corp. all contributed to the surveillance efforts by Col. Gaddafi’s regime in Libya. Surveillance technology equipment sold by Siemens AG and maintained by Nokia Siemens Networks were used against human rights activists in Bahrain. These instances, as part of a wider pattern that came to the spotlight, galvanized the WA countries in 2013 to include “intrusion software” and “IP network surveillance systems” in the Control List to attempt to limit the transfer of these technologies to known repressive regimes. 

Unexpected Consequences

The 2013 Amendment to the Control Lists was the subject of severe criticism by tech companies and civil society groups across the board. While the intention behind it was recognized as laudable, the terms “intrusion software” and “IP network surveillance system” were widely viewed as over-broad and having the unintended consequence of looping in both legitimate as well as illegitimate use of technology. The problems pointed out by cybersecurity experts are manifold and are a result of a misunderstanding of how cybersecurity works.

The inclusion of these terms, which was meant to regulate surveillance based on computer codes / programmes, also has the consequence of bringing within its ambit legitimate and often beneficial uses of these technologies, including even antivirus technology according to one view. Cybersecurity research and development often involves making use of “zero-day exploits” or vulnerabilities in the developed software, which when discovered and reported by any “bounty hunter”, is typically bought by the company owning the software. This helps the company immediately develop a “patch” for the reported vulnerability. These transactions are often necessarily cross-border. Experts complained that if directly transposed to domestic law, the changes would have a chilling effect on the vital exchange of information and research in this area, which was a major hurdle for advances in cybersecurity, making cyberspace globally less safer. A prime example is HewlettPackard’s (HP)  withdrawal from Pwn2Own—a computer hacking contest held annually at the PacSecWest security conference where contestants are challenged to hack into / exploit vulnerabilities on widely used software. HP, which sponsored the event, was forced to withdraw in 2015 citing the “complexity in obtaining real-time import /export licenses in countries that participate in the Wassenaar Arrangement”, among others. The member nation in this case was Japan.

After facing fierce opposition on its home soil, the United States decided to not implement the WA amendment and instead, decided to argue for a reversal at the next Plenary session of the WA, which failed. Other nations, including the EU and Japan have implemented the WA amendment export controls with varying degrees of success.

The Pegasus Hack, India and the Wassenaar

Considering many of the Indians identified as victims of the Pegasus hack were either journalists or human rights activists, with many of them being associated with the highly-contentious Bhima-Koregaon case, speculation is rife that the Indian government is among those purchasing and utilizing this kind of advanced surveillance technology to spy on its own citizens. Adding this to the NSO Group’s public statement that its “sole purpose” is to “provide technology to licensed government intelligence and law enforcement agencies to help them fight terrorism and serious crime”, it appears there are credible allegations that the Indian government was involved in the hack. The government’s evasiveness in responding and insistence on so-called “standard operating procedures” having been followed are less than reassuring.

While India’s entry to the WA as its 42nd member in 2018 has certainly elevated its status in the international arms control regime by granting it access to three of the world’s four main arms-control regimes (the others being the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group / NSG, the Missile Technology Control Group / MTCR and the Australia Group), the Pegasus Hack incident and the apparent connection to the Indian government shows us that its commitment to the principles underlying the WA is doubtful. The purpose of the inclusion of “intrusion software” and “IP network surveillance system” in the WA’s Control Lists by way of the 2013 Amendment, no matter their unintended consequences for legitimate uses of such technology, was to prevent governmental purchases exactly like this one. Hence, even though the WA does not prohibit the purchase of any surveillance technology from a non-member, the Pegasus incident arguably, is still a serious detraction from India’s commitment to the WA, even if not an explicit violation.

Military Cyber-Capability Vs Law Enforcement Cyber-Capability

Given what we know so far, it appears that highly sophisticated surveillance technology has also come into the hands of local law enforcement agencies. Had it been disclosed that the Pegasus software was being utilized by a military wing against external enemies, by, say, even the newly created Defence Cyber Agency, it would have probably caused fewer ripples. In fact, it might even have come off as reassuring evidence of the country’s advanced cyber-capabilities. However, the idea of such advanced, sophisticated technologies at the easy disposal of local law enforcement agencies is cause for worry. This is because while traditionally the domain of the military is external, the domain of law enforcement agencies is internal, i.e., the citizenry. There is tremendous scope for misuse by such authorities, including increased targeting of minorities. The recent incident of police officials in Hyderabad randomly collecting biometric data including their fingerprints and clicking people’s pictures only exacerbates this point. Even abroad, there already exist on-going efforts to limit the use of surveillance technologies by local law enforcement such as the police.

The conflation of technology use by both military and civil agencies  is a problem that is created in part at least, by the complex and often dual-use nature of technology. While dual use technology is recognized by the WA, this problem is not one that it is able to solve. As explained above, dual use technology is technology that can be used for both civil and military purposes. The demands of real-politik, increase in cyber-terrorism and the manifold ways in which a nation’s security can be compromised in cyberspace necessitate any government in today’s world to increase and improve its cyber-military-capacity by acquiring such technology. After all, a government that acquires surveillance technology undoubtedly increases the effectiveness of its intelligence gathering and ergo, its security efforts. But at the same time, the government also acquires the power to simultaneously spy on its own citizens, which can easily cascade into more targeted violations. 

Governments must resist the impulse to turn such technology on its own citizens. In the Indian scenario, citizens have been granted a ring of protection by way of the Puttaswamy judgement, which explicitly recognizes their right to privacy as a fundamental right. Interception and surveillance by the government while currently limited by laid-down protocols, are not regulated by any dedicated law. While there are calls for urgent legislation on the subject, few deal with the technology procurement processes involved. It has also now emerged that Chhattisgarh’s State Government has set up a panel to look into allegations that that NSO officials had a meeting with the state police a few years ago. This raises questions of oversight in the relevant authorities’ public procurement processes, apart from their legal authority to actually carry out domestic surveillance by exploiting zero-day vulnerabilities.  It is now becoming evident that any law dealing with surveillance will need to ensure transparency and accountability in the procurement of and use of the different kinds of invasive technology adopted by Central or State authorities to carry out such surveillance. 

[i]A Guide to the Wassenaar Arrangement, Daryl Kimball, Arms Control Association, December 9, 2013,, last accessed on November 27, 2019.


[iii]Data, Interrupted: Regulating Digital Surveillance Exports, Tim Maurerand Jonathan Diamond, November 24, 2015, World Politics Review.

[iv]Wassenaar Arrangement: The Case of India’s Membership, Rajeswari P. Rajagopalan and Arka Biswas, , ORF Occasional Paper #92 p.3, OBSERVER RESEARCH FOUNDATION, May 5, 2016,, last accessed on November 27, 2019.

[v]Ibid, p. 3

[vi]“List of Dual-Use Goods and Technologies And Munitions List,” The Wassenaar Arrangement, available at, last accessed on November 27, 2019. 

[vii]Article 2(1), Proposal for a REGULATION OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL setting up a Union regime for the control of exports, transfer, brokering, technical assistance and transit of dual-use items (recast), European Commission, September 28th, 2016,, last accessed on November 27, 2019. 

[viii]supra note vi.

[ix]Guidelines & Procedures, including the Initial Elements, The Wassenaar Arrangement, December, 2016, content/uploads/2016/12/Guidelines-and-procedures-including-the-Initial-Elements-2016.pdf, last accessed on November 27, 2019.

[x]Articles V(1) & (2), Guidelines & Procedures, including the Initial Elements, The Wassenaar Arrangement, December, 2016,, last accessed on November 27, 2019.

ICANN and Human Rights

By Aarti Bhavana

The topic of human rights on the Internet has been one of significant interest, right from finding mention in the WSIS Declaration of Principles in 2003, to the UN Human Rights Council’s First Resolution on Internet Free Speech, which declared that the rights available to people offline must also be protected online. These have subsequently also been reaffirmed by UN General Assembly’s resolution on the right to privacy in the digital age, and the NETmundial outcome document, which called for human rights to underpin the principles of Internet governance.

However, the issue of human rights in the specific context of Internet architecture is one that has gained significant traction only in the recent past. As the entity responsible for the technical coordination of the domain name system (DNS), ICANN’s impact on human rights is not one to be underestimated. While it is a corporation bound by California corporate law, it also functions as a global governance body that develops Internet policy.[1] As a result, a human rights study from an ICANN perspective not only includes the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), but also the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGP), which sets out corporate responsibilities to respect human rights.

ICANN policy processes and human rights

ICANN policies have a significant impact on internationally recognized human rights, such as freedom of expression, privacy, due process and freedom of association. There are also three major policy development processes (PDP) concerning issues with far-reaching human rights impacts:

New gTLD subsequent procedure: one of the biggest functions carried out by ICANN is deciding when to introduce new gTLDs[2] After the first round of new gTLD applications, a review was undertaken to determine whether adjustments needed to be made for subsequent application procedures. This PDP will examine the set of issues identified from the experiences of the 2012 round of new gTLD Program and address related policy concerns. The will also include looking into various issues which will have substantial human rights impact, such as the freedom of expression, freedom of association, economic and social rights, and privacy.

Next-Generation gTLD Registration Directory Services to Replace Whois: also known as new WHOIS, next-gen WHOIS or WHOIS2, this PDP is the culmination of over 15 years of efforts to address the many issues related to gTLD registration data. The collection and public access to registration data has long been a cause for concern, and this PDP will have to focus on data protection and the right to privacy.

Review of all Rights Protection Mechanisms (RPMs) in all gTLDs: this PDP shall be assessing the effectiveness of the Rights Protection Mechanisms for all gTLDs, such as Uniform Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP), Trademark Clearinghouse (TMCH) and Uniform Rapid Suspension 
Procedure (URS), among others. The right to freedom of expression and due process are directly impacted by RPMs, and any review must take this into account.

The IANA Transition

Apart from the individual policy processes, there has also been some work on developing an overarching human rights framework for ICANN. The IANA Transition, expected to take place in September of this year, required an enhancement of ICANN’s accountability and transparency. This involved several discussions on ICANN’s principles, values and mission, which led to a discussion of human rights.[3] Article 4 of the Articles of Incorporation commits ICANN to “carrying out its activities in conformity with relevant principles of international law and applicable international conventions and local law.” Whether this includes international human rights instruments, is open to interpretation, and there was a demand for the bylaws to be amended to explicitly reflect human rights principles. The Cross Community Working Group on Enhancing ICANN Accountability (CCWG-Accountability) worked on developing a human rights bylaw that explicitly commits ICANN to respect internationally recognized human rights. The bylaw language is currently being finalized, along with the rest of the CCWG-Accountability recommendations. (A detailed explanation tracing the evolution of CCWG-Accountability work on human rights can be found here).

Ongoing work on human rights

Work Party 4 of CCWG-Accountability continues its work on developing ICANN’s commitment to human rights. Future work in this area will be in the form of understanding how the proposed human rights bylaw is to be interpreted, specific to ICANN’s structure.

Further, there are groups dedicated to understanding the intricacies of human rights and ICANN’s policy work. The Cross-Community Working Party on ICANN’s Corporate and Social Responsibility to Respect Human Rights (CCWP-HR) and the GAC Working Group on Human Rights and International Law (HRIL) are two such examples. The work of these groups become even more significant with the three PDPs currently underway, as there needs to be a constant check to ensure that the policies respect internationally recognized human rights.


[2] Dr. Monika Zalnieriute and Thomas Schneider, ‘A Council of Europe Analysis on ICANN’s Procedures and Policies in the Light of Human Rights, Fundamental Freedoms and Democratic Values.’ Council of Europe, Strasbourg, DGI (2014)12.


CCWG-Accountability: On the road to Marrakech, Part 2

By Aarti Bhavana

Recommendations 6 & 12

In the weeks leading up to the ICANN 55 Meeting at Marrakech, we are doing a series of posts tracking the CCWG-Accountability process. The first post in this series, analysing Recommendations 1 & 2, can be read here. This post examines Recommendation #6: Reaffirming ICANN’s Commitment to Respect Internationally Recognised Human Rights and Recommendation #12: Committing to Further Accountability Work in Work Stream 2. It also studies the process of developments in these recommendations, since the 3rd draft proposal was opened for public comments.

Recommendation #6: Reaffirming ICANN’s Commitment to Respect Internationally Recognized Human Rights

The 3rd draft proposal recommended reaffirming ICANN’s commitment to human rights through two bylaws: one, a draft Bylaw which would clarify ICANN’s obligation to respect internationally recognised human rights, and the other, an interim bylaw that would commit to the development of a framework of interpretation for the implementation of the draft bylaw.  However, this approach was met with some resistance.

a. Human Rights and the ICANN Board

In its comments, the Board stated that while it is ‘committed to upholding human rights’, it disagreed with the staged approach proposed in the 3rd draft proposal. It feared that the proposed language could be used to expand ICANN’s obligations and increase the risk of unintended consequences such initiating the Independent Review Process (IRP) or litigation on human rights grounds. Leaving issues open until the approval of the Framework of Interpretation (FOI) could result in courts and binding IRP decisions creating precedent for what ICANN’s rights commitments are. A rather surprising aspect of the Board’s comments was the reference to evaluate this recommendation on grounds of Global Public Interest,[1] if its objections were not addressed.

The Board suggested holding off on a human rights bylaw until the FOI was approved. It also recommended developing a Human Rights Statement with the community, in a top-down manner.[2] Crucial details such as whether a human rights commitment should be included in the bylaws or elsewhere would be discussed in Work Stream 2.

b. A shot at a compromise

Shortly after receiving the Board’s comments, the CCWG-Accountability attempted to understand the objections made, particularly with reference to Global Public Interest. Some viewed the Board’s response as a way to strong-arm the CCWG into a position acceptable by it, while others worked on ways to address these concerns without altering too much of the original text. Further, contrary to the Board’s position, the CCWG lawyers clarified that the language in the 3rd draft proposal would not create additional legal risks.

Against the backdrop of these discussions, the calls[3] set out three ways of moving forward:

  1. Continuing with human rights commitment in Work Stream1 (roughly the 3rd draft proposal approach),
  2. Deferring the discussion to Work Stream 2 (the Board’s approach), and
  3. A compromise position of including a bylaw, which would take effect only after the FOI was approved (dormant bylaw).

In an effort towards cooperation, the co-chairs invited members and participants to consider option C (dormant bylaw), as it was a compromise between the Board’s position and the language set out in the 3rd draft. This was met with some disagreement, as it was felt that CCWG and WP4 had together agreed on option A when it was included in the 3rd draft proposal, and this work should not be disregarded.

In response to the Board’s objections and in the midst of much confusion over the options, it was decided that 3rd draft proposal language will be modified to make the bylaw dormant until FOI is approved. This would address the Board’s concerns over IRP and litigation risks as well, since the bylaw would not be effective until the framework of interpretation was adopted. There was consensus for the compromise option. However, the Board remained steadfast in its position of supporting option B, evoking quite a bit of frustration within the CCWG community. It was decided that unless the Board came up with a bylaw statement acceptable to the community, this compromise language would be finalised.

c. Necessity of inclusion of the HR bylaw

While comments received during the public comments period were largely supportive of the inclusion of human rights, few raised concerns about including a human rights commitment prior to the completion of the Framework of Interpretation, and some felt that this matter should be pushed to Work Stream 2. Another issue raised by a few was that a human rights commitment didn’t belong in the bylaws.

The large majority in favour of including the human rights commitment explained that in the absence of the NTIA oversight, there was no backstop for human rights obligations unless ICANN made such a commitment. This commitment was considered essential to satisfy the NTIA criteria of maintaining the openness of the internet. It was also felt necessary to include this commitment in Work Stream1 as an assurance that the work would continue in Work Stream 2.

Amidst much relief, the Board shifted its position and proposed bylaw language similar to the text agreed by the CCWG-Accountability. After a final call discussing this proposed language, CCWG accepted the Board’s proposal and the recommendation has been finalized. Final drafting is left to the lawyers, and the CCWG breathes a collective sigh of relief as the human rights commitment has been secured.

Recommendation #12: Committing to Further Accountability Work in Work Stream 2

The 3rd draft proposal proposed certain accountability topics for Work Stream 2- a timeline that extends beyond the IANA transition. These topics included mechanisms to enhance ICANN’s transparency, improve diversity at all levels, jurisdiction and accountability, developing a framework of interpretation for the bylaw on human rights, and enhancing the Ombudsman’s role and function. It also proposed an interim bylaw committing ICANN towards implementing CCWG-Accountability Work Stream 2 recommendations.

In its comments, the Board stated its concern over the interim bylaw requiring the Board to commit to implement the CCWG-Accountability Work Stream 2 recommendations in full, as it was felt that this commitment couldn’t be made without evaluating the recommendations first. It was also made it clear that while it supports Work Stream 2 efforts, this was limited only to the extent of the listed topics.

The discussion over this recommendation was fairly short,[4] and it was the first to be finalised. The Board’s concerns were addressed through modifications to the Recommendation. Clarifications were made to the interim bylaw, ensuring that the Board’s obligations would be identical to those in Work Stream 1. The list of topics to be dealt with in Work Stream 2 has been limited to those listed. It was clarified that Work Stream 2 would follow rules similar to Work Stream 1: consensus recommendations would be endorsed by chartering organisations, and if 2/3rds of the Board agrees that a recommendation is not in the global public interest, it would have the option to initiate a special dialogue with the CCWG-Accountability.

Additionally, enhancing Ombudsman’s role and functions has been confirmed and elaborated for Work Stream 2, in response to public comments. Transparency of board deliberations have also been added, as suggested by NCSG in its comments. Finally, appropriate modifications are to be made to portions concerning human rights, keeping with the changes made to Recommendation #6, as detailed above.

[1] In its Resolution in October 2014, the Board committed to following certain principles when considering CCWG-Accountability recommendations. One such principle was over Global Public Interest: if, by agreement of 2/3rds of the Board, it was decided that a particular recommendation was not in the global public interest, the Board would initiate a special dialogue with the CCWG over its concerns.

[2] The Cross-Community Working Party on ICANN’s Corporate Social Responsibility to protect Human Rights (CCWP-HR) is currently working on providing inputs for this human rights statement, in the hopes that it will be developed through a bottom-up multistakeholder process.

[3] This recommendation was discussed in calls #76, #78, #80 and #83.

[4] This recommendation was discussed in calls #74 and #76.


Full Text of India’s statement at the 1st Preparatory Meeting for UNGA’s overall review of the implementation of the WSIS Outcomes

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Thank you distinguished co-facilitators for giving me the floor and the opportunity to speak on behalf of my country. We would like to place on record our sincerest appreciation to both the co-facilitators for their abled stewardship of this process and for the well-crafted roadmap that has been placed before us.

At the outset my delegation would like to align itself with the statement delivered by the distinguished representative of South Africa on behalf of the Group of 77 (G77) and China. In identifying areas of cooperation in the WSIS+10 Review Process we should keep the modalities resolutioned as contingent of the Tunis Agenda to utilize ICTs for development and for the benefit of the developing countries. We need to take stock of the implementation of the WSIS action lines in the Tunis Agenda, review the existing mechanisms and update them and provide the necessary course correction to make them relevant for the challenges in the 21st century.

Second, we need to explicitly recognize the lack of follow up on the funding mechanism for the ICTs to implement the Tunis Agenda. There is a need to address capacity building and transfer of technology in keeping with the yet unfulfilled mandate outlined in para 9 of the Tunis Agenda.

Third, the stark gap in the digital divide between the developed and developing world needs to receive our attention. Despite significant advances, 50% of the world’s population, mostly from developing and the least developed countries continues to be denied access to ICTs. The growing gender digital divide, which has become even more sharp and acute in recent years is a related area of concern and needs to be specially factored into the review agenda. There is also a need to go beyond access issues and focus of affordability and multilingualism for inclusive growth and development. The formal launch of the Digital India programme earlier today by the Prime Minister of India seeks to address these and other issues related to digital empowerment of India’s citizens.

Fourth, on the issue of Internet governance it is imperative to acknowledge the platform of the Internet as a global public good where all stakeholders have an equal stake in its functioning and efficiency. India would like to affirm and renew its commitment to the multistakeholder processes. My delegation welcomes the participation of all the relevant WSIS stakeholders in the review process and looks forward to incorporating their inputs to make the IGF more broad based and globalized. At the same time we also think that enlisting and encouraging participation from the developing world in these processes needs particular attention.

Fifth, the mandate of para 69 of the Tunis agenda which had called for the process of enhanced cooperation remains as yet unfulfilled and needs our special consideration. In this context India specially recognizes the need for identifying issues, which have a direct impact on national security and call for enhanced role for governments in dealing with such issues.

Sixth, we need to recognize the need to build a common understanding on the applicability of international rights and norms particularly the freedom of expressioned activities in cyberspace. To ensure better protection of all citizens in the online environment and strike and ideal balance between national security and internationally recognized human rights and to create frameworks so that internet surveillance practices motivated by security concerns are conducted with a truly transparent and accountable framework. Further my government would also like to express a strong affirmation of the principles of net neutrality.

And finally we must keep in mind that our work is taking place in the 70th anniversary year of the United Nations. In this historical year we are also seeking to conclude the post 2015 development agenda and to hold the financing for development conference and the COP 21 meeting on climate change. We need to acknowledge the synergy and inter linkages between the WSIS+10 Review and these three major meetings of the UN system in 2015 and reflect them appropriately in our outcome document.

Co-facilitator madam and sir, our engagement at the WSIS+10 process stems from our deep and substantive understanding of the need to make ICTs truly relevant for the benefit of the entire planet and not just privileged few. Please rest assured of our fullest cooperation and steadfast support in helping you drive this process to its successful conclusion.

Thank you.

Symposium on Human Rights and the Internet in India

Symposium on Human Rights & the Internet in India


Surveillance & Databases: Experiences & Privacy Concerns


Unpacking the Intermediary Liability Debate in India

5:00 p.m., 17th January 2015

Organised by

Global Network of Internet and Society Research Centers

UNESCO Chair on Freedom of Communication and Information at the University of Hamburg

Alexander von Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society (HIIG)

Hans Bredow Institute, University of Hamburg


Centre for Communication Governance at National Law University, Delhi


Conference Room – II | India International Centre | Max Muller Marg | Lodhi Estate | New Delhi

On January 17, 2015 the Center for Communication Governance at National Law University, Delhi in collaboration with the UNESCO Chair on Freedom of Communication and Information at the University of Hamburg host a pubic symposium on “Human Rights and Internet in India” as a Network of Centers (NoC) regional event. The event convenes a diverse group of collaborators working on issues of Privacy, Surveillance, Data Protection, Freedom of Expression and Intermediary Liability in India, the surrounding region, and internationally.

The concept note for the event can be found here.

Agenda | Saturday, January 17 | Public Symposium

17:20 – 17:45 Welcome
Opening words
Prof. (Dr.) Ranbir Singh, Vice Chancellor, National Law University, Delhi
Prof. (Dr.) Wolfgang Schulz, Director, Alexander von Humboldt Institute for Internet & Society

17:45 – 19:00 Panel I: Surveillance & Databases: Experiences & Privacy
The panel will explore how surveillance in India might become more consistent with international human rights standards and Indian constitutional values. It will also discuss the consequences of ubiquitous database programs for citizens’ human rights. This will include comparative perspectives around similar problems and a discussion of privacy-compatible practices in other countries.

Dr. Usha Ramanathan, Independent Law Researcher

Mr. Bhairav Acharya, Lawyer, Supreme Court of India and Adviser Centre for Internet & Society, Bangalore

Mr. Saikat Datta, Editor (National Security), Hindustan Times

Professor KS Park, Former Commissioner, Korea Communications Standards Commission and Professor, Korea University Law School
19:00 – 20:15 Panel II: Unpacking the Intermediary Liability Debate in India
The panel will focus on the legal framework governing Internet platforms in India, especially with regard to online content and its implications for rights of the citizens. It has been argued that the current legal framework creates incentives for online intermediaries to take down content even when no substantive notice or legitimate reasons have been offered. The panel will consider the debate around intermediary liability in India in light of the ongoing litigation at the Supreme Court. It will reflect on the international experience with intermediary liability legislation and discuss how to ensure that laws support an innovative and competitive environment for intermediaries, while ensuring that they prioritize the preservation of their users’ human rights.
Dr. Joris van Hoboken, Fellow, Information Law Institute at NYU School of Law

Professor (Dr.) Wolfgang Schulz, Director, Alexander von Humboldt Institute for Internet & Society (HIIG)

Mr. Raman Jit Singh Chima, Lawyer

Chinmayi Arun and Sarvjeet Singh, Centre for Communication Governance at National Law University, Delhi 

20:15 onwards: Dinner