Research

Digital Inclusion

COVID-19: ACCESS TO DEVICES A MUST FOR BRIDGING THE DIGITAL DIVIDE

Down to Earth Magazine , 28 July, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted how the lack of access to an Internet-enabled handset device presents the most immediate barrier in India's digital divide. Solving this problem will require the cooperation of multiple stakeholders at all levels, including the government, telecom operators, device manufacturers, micro lending institutions and community platforms.

INDIA'S ON A DIGITAL SPRINT THAT IS LEAVING MILLIONS BEHIND

BBC World, 17 October, 2019

The exuberance around India's digital story, in terms of increasing adoption and consumption, is accompanied by the sobering reality of a vast digital divide. This piece notes that a person's location, income, gender, education, language, and age are among the many factors that define this divide. It calls for rigorous data-driven exercise to measure which factors are causing what level of exclusion and the reasons behind it.

GO TO LAHAUL-SPITI FOR `INTERNET KA VANVASS'. DIGITAL INDIA AND TELECOM COMPANIES SKIPPED IT

The Print, 5 July, 2019

This piece draws attention to the challenges faced by the residents of district Lahaul-Spiti in Himachal Pradesh due to the lack of telecom connectivity. It describes the state of telecom infrastructure in the region and how its remoteness and sparse population make it an unviable candidate for large scale commercial expansion. I make a case for more effective use of the universal services obligation fund to devise technically feasible solutions that are suited to the local context.

COVID - 19

TECHNOLOGY GOVERNANCE IN A TIME OF CRISIS

Human Technology Foundation, iTechLaw Association and others, July, 2020

Contributed to this report prepared by a multi-disciplinary team of 45 technicians, lawyers, and ethicists and published by the Human Technology Foundation. The report offers a guide for the responsible governance of COVID-19 related technological solutions. The work included the development of a multi-factor risk impact assessment toolkit and the application of the toolkit to various tech interventions, including the Indian government's Aarogya Setu app.

ANALYSIS OF INDIA'S AAROGYA SETU APP

Smriti Parsheera, Nikhil Narendran, Swati Muthukumar and Aparajita Lath

CyberBRICS Project, 28 August, 2020

This analysis of the Aarogya Setu app focuses on issues of transparency in the app’s code and development process, its mandatory application, in certain contexts, and the implications for user privacy. The piece builds on the impact assessment of the Aarogya Setu app published by the authors in Report on Technology Governance in a Time of Crisis.

STREET LEVEL OFFICIALS IN INDIA'S COVID-19 RESPONSE

LEAP Blog, 6 April, 2020

This piece highlights the critical role of street-level bureaucrats, like district-level officials, police officers, social workers and other members of the local administration, in the implementation of COVID-19 related policies. Drawing from Michael Lipsky's work on street-level bureaucrats, it argues that the actions of such actors are motivated not only by the directions issued by the State but also by the incentives, uncertainties, pressures and threats faced by them. Better policy planning should, therefore, account for these factors and address them while designing the policy response.

Online Dispute Resolution

ONLINE DISPUTE RESOLUTION IN INDIA: LOOKING BEYOND THE WINDOW OF OPPORTUNITY

Rashika Narain and Smriti Parsheera

LEAP Blog, 14 April, 2021

In this article, we describe the meaning, evolution and state of adoption of online dispute resolution (ODR) in India. We also introduce the Handbook on Online Dispute Resolution designed to encourage the adoption of ODR solutions by businesses. While sharing the optimism generated by recent advancements in this space, we also highlight the country's persisting digital divide and concerns of excessive central planning in the design of ODR systems.

Data Localisation

DATA LOCALISATION IN INDIA: QUESTIONING THE MEANS AND ENDS

Rishab Bailey and Smriti Parsheera

NIPFP Working Paper 242, 31 October 2018

The subject of data localisation has garnered significant attention in recent policy debates in India. This paper classifies the arguments around data localisation into three broad categories - the civil liberties perspective; the government functions perspective and the economic perspective. We examine the likely costs and benefits under each of these heads and come to the conclusion that it would be premature to adopt any sweeping localisation norms in India. At the same time, India must not will away its ability to adopt such measures in future by agreeing to sweeping 'free flow of data' provisions in trade agreements. The identification of cases where narrowly tailored localisation requirements might be an appropriate response should be done through a transparent and consultative process. Where an assessment of the over all costs and benefits justifies a case for localisation, it should be adopted in its least intrusive form

Paper | Blog post

Intermediary Liability

COMMENTS ON THE (DRAFT) INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY [INTERMEDIARIES GUIDELINES (AMENDMENT) RULES, 2018

Rishab Bailey, Smriti Parsheera and Faiza Rahman

SSRN, January, 2019

Our overarching comments on the draft intermediary guidelines relate to (i) the scope of subordinate legislation — how the numerous substantive obligations in the Draft Rules exceed the mandate of the parent provision; (ii) need for a calibrated approach for different types of intermediaries, based on the nature of activities being carried out by them and the risks and challenges arising from those activities; and (iii) need for a separate conversation on the merits and demerits of voluntary take down mechanisms adopted by various platforms, which essentially amounts to private forms of censorship. These observations are followed by provision-wise comments on the specific text of the draft rules.