Digital Public Goods
INDIA'S POLICY RESPONSES TO BIG TECH: AND AN EYE ON THE RISE OF 'ALT BIG TECH'
Indian Journal of Law and Technology, Volume 18, Issue 1, 2022
The term ‘big tech’ offers a helpful and widely used label for describing the world’s most powerful technology companies. The challenges posed by big tech across the domains of competition, innovation, human rights, and social and political impact are real and immediate. So is the need for building more effective checks against them. India is still in the early stages of formulating its strategy on big tech, through the traditional playbook of competition, enforcement, and domain-specific regulatory interventions. But it has also adopted a more novel strategy of relying on open APIs and interoperability standards to counter the market features that enable the concentration of power in the hands of dominant tech players.
The paper studies the Unified Payments Interface, the Data Empowerment and Protection Architecture, and the Open Network for Digital Commerce as examples of such technical systems. It argues that while recognising the innovation and progress of these new systems, it is also important to keep an eye on their potential to emerge as ‘alt big tech’ – systems that create new opportunities for dominance and power play that can bear significant consequences for competition, innovation, and public interest in the long run.
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.
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 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