This section lists down all conferences that have been organized/attended by SFLC.in related to Internet shutdowns.
Aug. 4, 2020
Software Freedom Law Centre (SFLC.in) in collaboration with Live Law hosted a panel on August 4, 2020 to commemorate a year of communication blockade in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir. The panel on “Reconciling State’s interest with a digital life” was centred on the growing spurt of Internet shutdowns in the paradigm of national security, misinformation, censorship, content takedown and encryption, and further extended to discussing a roadmap for communication freedom in Jammu and Kashmir.
The panel was laced with eminent dignitaries which included Manish Tewari, Member of Parliament and Lawyer, Prof Manoj Jha, Member of Parliament, Dr Gulshan Rai, Former Chief Information Security Officer (Prime Minister’s Office), Ms. Anuradha Bhasin, Executive Editor, Kashmir Times, Mr Faisal Farooqui, Founder of Mouthshut.com, Ms. Sairee Chehal, Founder of Sheroes.
The panel was moderated by Ms. Mishi Choudhary, Founder of SFLC.in.
March 6, 2020
SFLC.in participated in the Internet Freedom Festival (IFF) which was held between 6th and 10th of March, 2017 in the beautiful city of Valencia in Spain. IFF is a community organized unconference that brings together digital rights defenders – journalists, activists, technologists, policy advocates, digital safety trainers, and designers – to create an inclusive and diverse space for discussions and collaborations.
Under the theme, Internet Freedom: Present and Future, we organized a conversational session on “Analyzing the Causes and Impacts of Internet Shutdowns”with a full hall of about 80 participants. The irony of such high incidence of this issue in a country that takes pride in being the largest democracy in the world was evident in the points raised throughout the session. There was also discussion about the need for more specific studies on the economic and social impact of these shutdowns that provides regional data which can enhance the advocacy efforts in those regions.
We also showcased our Internet Shutdown Tracker project which maps the growing incidents of Internet shutdowns across India and was much appreciated, especially by activists from countries which have faced numerous such shutdowns.
We were also invited to the panel on “Data Protection Laws and its different manifestations” which was organized together by Digital Rights Foundation, Access Now and Electronic Frontier Foundation. Other panelists included Nighat Dad (DRF), Wafa BenHassine (Access Now), Mohamad Najem (SMEX). The panel was moderated by Nica Doom (EngageMedia). India’s lack of an overarching legislation that should ideally cover the gamut of data privacy and security concerns that have been surfacing of late across India. We focused particularly on the problems around Aadhaar and its weak mechanisms in ensuring privacy and protection of personal information from being misused. We also took part in the discussion on Mass Surveillance in India and held a discussion on Aadhaar’s potential as a surveillance tool by government and its law enforcement agencies.
Nov. 12, 2018
The 13th Internet Governance Forum (“IGF”) was hosted by the Government of France at the headquarters of UNESCO in Paris from 12 to 14 November 2018. The overarching theme for the event was ‘Internet of Trust’.
The IGF is a global multi-stakeholder platform to exchange information and share good policies and practices relating to the Internet and related technologies. The IGF also gives stakeholders from all countries, including developing countries, the opportunity to engage in the debate on Internet governance and it contributes to capacity building, allowing these stakeholders to build knowledge and skills that will facilitate their participation in existing Internet governance institutions and arrangements.
This year, at IGF, SFLC.in was part of a panel organized by Mozilla on - ‘Has it become a luxury to disconnect?’ and also gave a lightning talk on ‘Internet Shutdowns in India’. SFLC.in was represented by Shashank Mohan on both sessions at the IGF.
We wish to bring you summaries of these sessions at the IGF, as two posts.
(For a summary of our panel discussion organized Mozilla on ‘Has it become a luxury to disconnect?’ at the IGF in Paris, please click here)
Summary of our enlightening talk on Internet Shutdowns in India
Speaker: Shashank Mohan
We (SFLC.in) define Internet Shutdowns to be - government imposed suspension of access to the Internet, as a whole, within one or more localities for any duration of time.
Certain regions in India have been disproportionately affected by Internet Shutdowns, such as – Jammu and Kashmir, Rajasthan and West Bengal.
The current rules on Internet Shutdowns in India – Temporary Suspension of Telecom Services (Public Emergency or Public Safety) Rules, 2017, do not provide a formal mechanism of reporting shutdowns by the executive.
Internet Shutdowns have significant socio-economic costs for the country.
It is unclear whether Internet Shutdowns are effective in achieving the goals they are implemented for.
To illustrate the social effects of shutdown in India, Shashank started the talk by narrating the story of a school girl from Darjeeling (West Bengal), who was unable to apply for her higher education due to an Internet Shutdown of more than 100 days in her home town. He proceeded to then explain the definition of Internet Shutdowns (as adopted by SFLC.in) i.e. a government imposed disablement of access to the Internet, as a whole, within one or more localities for any duration of time. SFLC.in does not consider blocking of certain services or throttling of the network as an Internet Shutdown, he said.
He then moved on to informing the audience that India holds the number one position of all countries in the world to shutdown the Internet in the year of 2018. This year India has also seen the maximum shutdowns (125 at the time of giving the talk) since 2012, when one of the very first instances of an Internet Shutdown was reported in the country, he told the audience. Shutdowns are not uniformly imposed in all regions of India and they are not deployed for the entire country. They have been concentrated in few regions of the country like – Jammu and Kashmir, Rajasthan and West Bengal, with the most shutdowns being reported from the Jammu and Kashmir region.
For the legal backing of Internet Shutdowns in India, he informed the audience that before last year i.e. 2017, governments across India had been using an archaic law, which was generally used in situations of public unrest to impose Internet Shutdowns (Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973). In 2017, the central government introduced rules under a British era law called the Telegraph Act, 1885 to formalise the procedure for imposing Internet Shutdowns in India. The rules called the – Temporary Suspension of Telecom Services (Public Emergency or Public Safety) Rules, 2017, introduced mechanisms of imposing a shutdown; reasons to be given for imposing a shutdown; and the formation of a review committee for ensuring that shutdowns are imposed by the due process of law. Crucially, these rules do not establish a formal mechanism of reporting the instances of shutdowns being imposed.
Moving on to the economic effects of Internet Shutdowns, Shashank told the audience that as per a study conducted by the Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER), the internet shutdowns imposed between 2012 and 2017 costed the Indian economy a sum of nearly $3.04 billion. Similarly, according to a study conducted by the Center for Technology Innovation at Brookings, between July 1, 2015 and June 30, 2016, economic losses to India due to Internet Shutdowns are - $968 million.
Moving on to the work SFLC.in has been doing in India around Internet Shutdowns, Shashank told the audience that SFLC.in had been actively and comprehensively tracking shutdowns in India from the year 2012. SFLC.in maintains a real-time dynamic tracker at <https://internetshutdowns.in/> and has recently published a detailed report on Internet Shutdowns in India capturing the extent, socio-economic effects and the legal backing of shutdowns in India. SFLC.in has also filed ‘Right to Information’ applications with state governments under the Right to Information Act, 2005, to inquire about the extent of shutdowns in every state. Recently, SFLC.in has updated its tracker to retrospectively update un-reported shutdowns based on replies received to right to information applications from the state of Rajasthan.
In conclusion, Shashank stated that barring the concerns of public safety and national security, India has started seeing instances of Internet Shutdowns for – avoiding cheating in exams and during public festivals. He also said that it is unclear whether Internet Shutdowns are effective in achieving the goals they are implemented for.
Aug. 13, 2018
The Asia Pacific Regional Internet Governance Forum (APrIGF), 2018 was held in Port Vila, Vanuatu from 13th to 16th August.
Each year, the APrIGF serves as a multistakeholder platform for discussion, exchange and collaboration at a regional level and also where possible, to aggregate national IGF discussions that ultimately advance the Internet governance development in the Asia Pacific region.
This year, on the Day 3, 16th August 2018 Mr. Maheeshwara Kirindigoda (ISOC Sri Lanka) organized a panel discussion titled “Internet Restrictions in Asia Pacific Region and How to Mitigate.” The Panel constituted Mr. Maheeshwara Kirindigoda (ISOC Sri Lanka), Mr. Waqas Hassan (PTA, ISOC Islamabad), Mr. Shreedeep Rayamajhi (ICANN, ICT4D, Rayznews) and Ms. Tripti Jain (SFLC.in). The discussion was moderated by Mr. Rajnesh Singh (APrIGF, ISOC Asia Pacific)
The panelists for the session focused on three main issues:
How Internet Restrictions or Shutdowns have become a Global concern?;
Why is the Government resorting to the idea of Internet Shutdown; and
What are the effective ways to mitigate the issues/reasons for shutdowns instead of resorting to such shutdowns?
Mr. Rajnesh Singh began with an introduction to the issue of Internet restrictions or shutdowns and how these order for bans affect people globally. He then went on to cite various instances of shutdowns across the globe highlighting concerns arising from these impositions. He also brought to notice that Access to Information & Communication Technology is a Human Right, sanctioned through ITU by United Nations. In this sense, Internet shutdown result in a denial of human rights.
Tripti Jain (SFLC.in) shared experiences from India with respect to Internet Shutdowns. She emphasized that India has seen the highest number of Internet Shutdowns in the world. She then mentioned that SFLC.in has been recording shutdowns since 2012. SFLC.in has recorded 375 instances of Internet shutdowns so far on their tracker, located at https://internetshutdowns.in/. She then highlighted that the numbers from their tracker may not be accurate because it is based primarily on information from secondary sources, i.e newspapers and reports from individuals. Therefore, the tracker fails to take into account many unreported instances of Internet shutdowns. She also discussed the failure of government and the private sector to record and report instances of Internet Shutdowns in India. She mentioned SFLC.in’s research and stated that we have filed an RTI (Right to Information Application) this summer to the Home Department of Rajasthan (a large state in India) as a result of which we found that there have been over 26 instances of Internet Shutdowns in 8 months that were not reported by newspapers. She discussed the procedural and executive concerns regarding legal provisions to impose Internet Shutdowns in India.
Mr Waqas Hassan discussed about the scenario in Pakistan with respect to Internet Shutdowns/ Restrictions. Mr. Hassan was representing the Government on the Panel and from his experience, he stated that one must always amicably engage with the government in order to reach a desired consensus. He also highlighted that over the years Pakistan has seen positive changes and that there has been a considerable decrease in the number of shutdowns ordered, however there's still a long way to go. While talking about restrictions on the Internet, he mentioned about the Judicial stances during the times of spread of misinformation.
Mr. Maheeshwara dealt with concerns of Sri Lanka along with the rest of the world with respect to the issue of Internet restrictions. He emphasized upon the reasons behind such orders. He cited various occasions on which Internet shutdowns were imposed across various parts of the world. He identified that Governments across the world have claimed national security as the primary reason to impose Internet shutdowns. He also discussed how most shutdowns are politically driven.
Mr. Shreedeep discussed his concerns with increasing number of Internet shutdowns in India and across the globe. He also stressed upon the economic impact of these shutdowns.
Internet Shutdowns have become a global concern in today’s digital age with a rapidly rising number of shutdowns across various nations.
Governments of the world often claim national security as the primary reason to push the kill switch, however in various nations including India, Internet shutdowns are often ordered for frivolous reasons such as prevention of cheating during examinations.
It has also been observed that Internet Service Providers and websites often attempt to notify their users before restricting access for maintenance of their networks. However, when Governments order shutdowns, there is often no prior notice.
The ripple effects of orders to impose an Internet shutdown are very severe. It leads to economic loss, lives are at risk during riots and disasters, it hampers education and affects healthcare, and the ability to exercise one’s rights such as free speech is hampered, among others.
There is a need to study the effectiveness of Internet Shutdowns to ensure national security viz-a-viz economic loss ensued by the state in the process.
Sept. 21, 2017
The second Digital Citizen Summit was organised on September 21-22, 2017 by Digital Empowerment Foundation (DEF) and Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom at India Habitat Centre, New Delhi. SFLC.in was an associate partner of the summit.
The summit aimed at finding solutions to bridge the digital divide, ways to ensure access to information, and creating a platform for participants to raise awareness about internet rights, digital literacy, and digital security. The sessions organised during the summit covered the broad themes of access, digital literacy and empowerment, privacy and freedom of expression.
We organised two sessions at the summit and participated as speakers in two others.
The session began with Sarath presenting the Internet shutdown tracker maintained by SFLC.in. Highlighting the steep rise in the number of shutdowns since 2012, he added that India has already witnessed 55 shutdowns in 2017, 1.7 times more than in 2016.
Vaishali Verma began with emphasizing the need for Internet in the present era of digital India. Highlighting the three month long Internet ban in Darjeeling, she shared the experiences of the people including students, businessmen, and the locals, giving an insight into the problems faced by them due to the embargo. She further discussed the new rules for Temporary Suspension of Telecom Services in case of public emergency and public safety, issued by the Department of Telecommunications, and its shortcomings. Lastly, she underlined the economic losses faced by the country due to the Internet shutdowns.
Ms. Ritu Srivastava dealt with the nature and psychological impact of Internet shutdowns. She gave several instances where Internet shutdowns had profound psychological impact on people of all ages. Finally, discussing about the transparency in the orders imposing shutdowns, Ritu criticised the lack of prior notifications from Internet Service Providers to the users before severing Internet services.
Sukhbir elaborated upon the need for secure and private browsing in the surveillance-ridden world. He explained the principle behind the working of TOR browser and its advantages against other methods including VPNs.
Sessions Participated in:
April 24, 2017
SFLC.in, in association with the Digital Empowerment Foundation, IT for Change, Internet Democracy Project, Centre for Internet and Society, and Foundation for Media Professionals, is organizing a public discussion titled “Access Denied: Internet Shutdowns in a Digital India” on Monday, April 24, 2017 at Hauz Khas Social, 9A & 12, Hauz Khas Village, New Delhi. This event will bring together a group of `key stakeholders to discuss the increasingly frequent Internet access disruptions that are imposed by states across India. The discussion will be followed by networking dinner and drinks.
Our Internet Shutdown Tracker has recorded at least 69 separate instances of “Internet shutdowns” across 13 Indian states since 2012, where residents of particular localities were disconnected from the Internet for extended periods of time upon state orders, usually in the stated interest of preventing rumor-driven escalations of prevailing or anticipated conflicts. Besides curtailing fundamental human rights such as the right to free speech and expression, Internet shutdowns disable a range of essential activities that rely on the Internet, such as e-commerce, e-governance, e-health and e-learning.
A 2016 study by the Center for Technology Innovation at the Brookings Institute had revealed that India suffered an estimated loss of $968 million during 2015-16 due to Internet shutdowns – the highest figure globally. Internet shutdowns have also been unequivocally condemned by the United Nations through a 2016 Human Rights Council resolution that called upon member states to refrain from such measures. Internet shutdowns assume even greater significance in a country like India, where the Government has been funneling vast resources towards digitization through initiatives like the Digital India program, Aadhaar, and cashless transactions post-demonetization.
Against this backdrop, we hope to hear from key stakeholders about Internet shutdowns as a policy practice, and facilitate a conversation around the idea behind shutdowns, the ground-level implications of frequent access disruptions, and possible solutions to the problem that balance security interests of the state with the need for sustained Internet connectivity. This event will serve as a platform for representatives from the Government, Industry, civil society, and user communities among others to come together to discuss this important issue. If you are interested in participating in this event, please send a line of confirmation to email@example.com by Friday, April 21, 2017.
March 2, 2017
Internews organized a panel discussion on “Internet Shutdowns and the Silencing of Dissent” held at Google’s office in Washington D.C on March 2, 2017. Our legal director, Mishi Choudhary, was among the panelists along with Arsene Tungali, Co-Founder & Executive Director of Rudi International, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Carolina Botero, Director of Fundacion Karisma, Colombia. The session was moderated by Kat Duffy, VP of Global Technology Programs, Internews.
In 2016, internet shutdowns rose 180%. From nation-wide shutdowns in Uganda and Gambia to targeted ones in Cameroon and India, restrictions and full blackouts of internet service have become a favorite tool of autocratic and repressive regimes. Shutdowns have wide-ranging effects on everything from political speech to commerce.
Join a talk with internet freedom activists and policy experts from the frontlines of shutdown battles.
Policy advocates from India, Colombia, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo will discuss their advocacy work, the trends they are seeing, and how internet shutdowns affect the daily lives of their fellow citizens.
Jan. 26, 2017
We are partnering with FSMI in organizing 4Ccon, FSMI’s second national conference on free software. We will be there to talk and discuss about the state of the affairs in the fight against Software Patents, our ongoing work on Internet Shutdowns and of course, free software. The conference will be held from 26th to 29th of January 2017 in Chennai. Our session is on 27th January 2017 between 2pm and 3:30pm in Hall 5.
4Ccon represents Collaboration, Contribution, Communities and Commons. There will be workshops, seminars and discussions on a wide range of topics that reflect the key issues around technology and its impact on India. The themes of the conference converge on aim to develop new understanding of what technology means in the rapidly evolving global and national contexts.
Dec. 6, 2016
The 11th annual Internet Governance Forum (IGF) was held from 6th to 9th December, 2016 in Jalisco, Mexico, with the overall theme of “Enabling Inclusive and Sustainable Growth”. The mandate for the IGF is contained in 2005′s Tunis Agenda of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), and the first IGF was convened in Athens in 2006 by the United Nations Secretary General. It is meant primarily as a facilitating forum for dialogues amongst participants, to identify emerging issues, bring them to the attention of the relevant bodies and the general public, and where appropriate, make recommendations.
IGF 2016 served as a platform for discussions on how the Internet can support and help enable sustainable growth as envisaged by the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. More than 2000 delegates from 83 countries participated over the course of four days in roughly 200 sessions addressing a broad range of themes and issues. The sessions covered, among other topics, the Internet and sustainable development; access and diversity; youth and gender challenges pertaining to the Internet; the protection and promotion of human rights online; cyber security; the need to enhance multi-stakeholder cooperation; critical Internet resources; Internet governance capacity-building; and other emerging issues that may affect the future of the open Internet. (The Chair’s Summary of IGF 2016 is available here)
SFLC.in was represented at IGF by Mishi Choudhary (Executive Director), and Arjun Jayakumar (Jr. Policy Director). We organized two sessions at the meeting and participated as speakers in five others.
WS109 – Analyzing the Causes and Impacts of Internet Shutdowns (December 9; 12:00 PM – 1:30 PM): This session, styled as a panel discussion, sought to explore the causes and ground-level impacts of Internet shutdowns with a view to uncovering the motivations behind such measures, laws and policies that allow them to happen and ways to prevent them. The panelists for the session were Brett Solomon (Executive Director, Access Now), Nicolas Seidler (Senior Policy Advisor, ISOC), Amos Toh (Legal Advisor to the UN Special Rapporteur, David Kaye), Hibah Kamal-Grayson (Senior Policy Analyst, Google), Rajan Mathews (Director General, Cellular Operators Association of India), Nanjira Sambuli (Digital Equality Advocacy Manager, World Wide Web Foundation), Gisela Perez de Acha (Public Policy Manager, Derechos Digitales), and Jan Ryzdak (Global Network Initiative). The session was moderated by Arjun Jayakumar.
It was said over the course of the discussion that there needed to be better common understanding on the scope of the term “Internet shutdowns”, and that it should be understood to cover both blanket and surgical shutdowns of the Internet. It was felt that there is a lot left to be done in terms of linking the rights-impact of Internet shutdowns to its economic impact i.e. it needs to be demonstrated that enabling free expression can lead to sustainable economic growth. It was also acknowledged by the panel that national security is at times a real concern and that thinking in bubbles will do little to arrive at workable solutions that are acceptable to all involved and mindful of all relevant concerns.
WS107 – Practical Challenges in Tackling Online Harassment (December 9; 2:40 PM – 3:00 PM): Arjun Jayakumar delivered a 20 minute lightning talk about the findings from SFLC.in’s conversations with 18 public figures who routinely face online harassment. These findings are contained in our report titled “Online Harassment: A Form of Censorship”, published in November 2016.
Arjun spoke about how relentless online harassment caused some interviewees to substantially change their usage of online speech platforms like social media websites and in some cases stop using them altogether. The shortcomings of India’s law enforcement machinery when it comes to addressing grievances related to online harassment was covered, as many interviewees had pointed to how police officers are often not equipped to handle such complaints. Arjun also spoke about the interviewees’ views on existing content reporting mechanisms offered by online speech platforms i.e. how many felt the turn-around times were far too long, how the whole process seemed entirely non-personal, and how this made them not utilize reporting mechanisms to the extent intended.
Some members of the attending crowd shared their insights into the legal responses to online harassment in other jurisdictions, and the general undesirability of emphasizing legal responses to online speech issues as this comes with the danger of restricting legitimate free speech as well.
Sessions participated in
Operational Responses to Online Harassment (December 5; 9:00 AM – 10:00 AM): This Day 0 session was organized by International Media Support, and examined the effects of online harassment especially on individuals with weak networks, its harmful effect on the diversity of voices when journalists, bloggers and others are targeted, community responses to online harassment, and ways to balance legal responses to online harassment with the right to freedom of expression. Mishi Choudhary spoke on SFLC.in’s behalf at this session, and presented our report on the topic along with some of its findings. She covered among other things, the report’s findings on shortcomings with social media’s content reporting mechanisms, under-preparedness of law enforcement in handling relevant grievances, and how the effect of online harassment on particular individuals was seen to be highly subjective. A post-session report of this session can be accessed here and an official transcript is available here.
IGF High-Level Meeting (December 5; 3:00 PM – 6:00 PM): 2016′s High-Level Meeting was held on Day 0 of IGF, and focused on the opportunities that the multi-stakeholder model offers to Internet Governance regarding social inclusion and digital abilities for the future, emphasizing the necessary skills for an environment marked by the contribution of the Internet to the development of citizens and nations in diverse aspects, including the economic one. Mishi Choudhary was a speaker at the meeting, and spoke about how multi-stakeholderism has become all the more relevant in light of the rising importance of the Internet, how the model facilitates discussion around crucial issues like surveillance, how even democratically elected governments can at times fail to reflect its people’s values, and generally on the need to focus on freedom and liberty as much as multi-stakeholderism in conversations around Internet governance. She also addressed the need to promote the widespread use of encryption and Free and Open Source Software, the need to guard against initiatives that inject discrimination and surveillance into the Internet under the garb of charity, building intelligent conversations around cyber security, and taking steps against online harassment.
WS14 – Asia and the Next Billion: Challenges in Digital Inclusion (December 6; 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM): This session was organized by the Internet Society, Trivandrum, and sought to take stock of the challenges in enabling digital inclusion in a cross-section of countries in the Asia-Pacific, including Pacific Islands, China, India, Pakistan, New Zealand, Armenia and China, and propose a set of strategies to address the issue of Digital Inclusion in the region, with the intention of strengthening community action towards equitable inclusion. Arjun Jayakumar spoke on SFLC.in’s behalf at the session.
An official transcript is available here.
WS21 – Open Source: A Key Enabler on the Path to the Next Billion (December 7; 3:00 PM – 4:00 PM): This session was also organized by the Internet Society, Trivandrum, and focused on ways in which communities can deploy Free and Open Source Software and build capacity within the community to meet the challenges arising out of joining the Internet. SFLC.in was represented by Arjun Jayakumar at the session. A post-session report is available here, and an official transcript here.
WS267 – Surveillance and International Human Rights Law (December 8, 3:00 PM – 4:00 PM): This session was organized by Red en Defensa de los Derechos Digitales. It provided an overview of how electronic surveillance has been approached by international human rights bodies, through a discussion on the trends, challenges and opportunities for the development of standards in international human rights law. Arjun Jayakumar spoke on SFLC.in’s behalf at this session. A post-session report is available here, and an official transcript here.
Dec. 6, 2016
The Internet Governance Forum (IGF), a multi-stakeholder public policy dialogue initiated by the United Nations Secretary-General, has been an annual affair for more than a decade. The 11th IGF is set to take place from 6th to 9th December at Guadalajara, Mexico with the theme of ‘Enabling Inclusive and Sustainable Growth’. This 4 day conference is an opportunity to discuss current as well as emerging issues in the field of digital freedoms, cyber security, Internet governance, and others, that require brainstorming, expert views, and co-operation amongst all stakeholders. At the IGF 2016, SFLC.in will be represented by our Executive Director, Mishi Choudhary and Jr. Policy Director, Arjun Jayakumar. We will be organizing two sessions on the topics of Internet shutdowns, and online harassment, and are excited for the opportunity to discuss our work, gain insights from across the globe and expand it further!
The details of our sessions are as follows:
Blanket shutdowns of Internet services, usually as a means to forestall violence and civic unrest, have been gaining traction in recent times, especially in developing countries. Restricting Internet access to large sections of the population has several wide-ranging consequences, including compromising the right to free speech and freedom of information and knowledge, in addition to making for an inhospitable environment for businesses and other entities that rely on the Internet for functioning. For details, please refer here.
If you wish to participate remotely, please register yourself here.
While the Internet has proved over the years to be a critical enabler of free speech and expression, the very attributes of the Internet that make it so have also brought forth numerous complex challenges without precedents for effective resolution. Online harassment is one such challenge, the prevalence of which threatens to compromise the Internet’s role as an enabler of free speech. As the Internet also serves as a platform for harassing speech, users are expected grow weary of what they choose to express online and how, which takes away from the Internet’s most cherished attributes. For details, please refer here.
This 20 minute talk will be given by Arjun Jayakumar where among other things, he will discuss recommendations and suggestions from our recently published report on Online Harassment: A form of Censorship. A copy of this report can be accessed here.
Apart from the above two sessions being organized by us, Mishi Choudhary will be speaking at the following events:
Arjun Jayakumar will be representing SFLC.in on the panel on Surveillance and International Human Rights Law [December 8, Workshop room 4, 15:00-16:00 hrs (CT)]. For details, please refer here.
July 26, 2016
The 8th Asia Pacific Regional Internet Governance Forum (APrIGF) convened from 26th to 29th July, 2017 at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, Thailand, with the objective of“Ensuring an inclusive and sustainable development in AsiaPacific: A regional agenda for internet governance”.
APrIGF is a multi-stakeholder platform for public policy on internet and its impact on society. Since 2010, this prime annual conference draws in discussions and incubates collaborations for the developments of universally affordable, accessible, non-discriminated, secure and sustainable internet across the region. Discussion points from APrIGF are linked to the global Internet Governance Forum in the form of a ‘Synthesis Document’.
This year, APrIGF saw participation from over 550 stakeholders from around the region in addition tothe 60 youth participants alongside at the Youth IGF. The broad topics covered during the sessions included access, empowerment, and diversity; cybersecurity, privacy, and safer Internet; digital economy and enabling innovation; and ensuring human rights online.
SFLC.in was represented by Prasanth Sugathan (Legal Director) and Vaishali Verma (Counsel) at the APrIGF. We organised two sessions at the forum and participated as speakers in two others.
This session was co-organised by Digital Rights Foundation, Pakistanand SFLC.in, and followed the panel discussion format. The panelists for this session included Malavika Jayaram (Executive Director, Digital Asia Hub), Lisa Garcia (Gender Coordinator, Foundation for Media Alternatives), Shmyla Khan (Project Manager, Digital Rights Foundation) and Vaishali Verma (Counsel, SFLC.in). The session was moderated by Prasanth Sugathan.
During the course of the session, Vaishali briefly spoke about the findings of the report prepared by SFLC.in, titled “Online Harassment: A Form of Censorship”, published in November 2016.The session further elaborated upon the practical challenges faced by the victims of online harassment, the efforts being made by various organisations to address these difficulties and the need to make this discussion mainstream.
This session aimed at understanding the importance of disclosure of algorithms, leading to an increase in privacy awareness through openness and transparency. The panelist for this session were Dr. Virgil Griffith (Scientist, Ethereum Foundation), Arthit Suriyawongkul (Digital Culture and Internet Policy Researcher, Foundation for Internet and Civic Culture), Rajat Kumar (Program Manager -Digital Transformation, Friedrich-Naumann-Stiftung für die Freiheit), Jyoti Pandey (Senior Policy Analyst, Electronic Frontier Foundation), and Vaishali Verma (Counsel, SFLC.in). The session was moderated by Prasanth Sugathan.
The panelist deliberated upon the need for transparency in algorithms and the effect it would have upon the privacy of the individuals. It was acknowledged that disclosure of algorithms would lead to an increased awareness of privacy amongst the stakeholders. The session delved into the liability assessments in case of malfunction of an algorithm. The panel further discussed the possible ways to facilitate disclosure of algorithms while also balancing the commercial interest with the public interest at the same time.
Sessions Participated in:
This session was co-organised by Open Net Korea and American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative. The panel discussed the question of right to be forgotten from the perspective of the visibility of public information, which falls under the realm of the freedom of expression and the right to know, instead of seeing it solely in the context of privacy. Prasanth Sugathan participated in this session on behalf of SFLC.in.
This session was organised by Access Now and reflected on the planned outcomes and developments from the #KeepItOn member organisations. The panelists discussed the status of disruptions and internet shutdowns in Asia-Pacific over the first half of 2017 and explored the opportunities for possible collaborations and initiatives in the region. SFLC.in was represented by Vaishali Verma in this session, who also spoke about the Internet shutdowns trackermaintained by SFLC.in.
SFLC.IN is the first Indian legal services organization that works exclusively on technology, law, and policy. As a not-for-profit organization engaged in the empowerment of Indian citizens about their digital freedom and rights, it operates as a collective, bringing together different stakeholders to a common platform to further the cause of digital rights. SFLC.in promotes innovation and open access to knowledge by helping policy makers make informed and just decisions regarding the use and adoption of technology. As of 2020, SFLC.in is the only Indian organization to be inducted as a member of the IFEX, a global network to defend the right to freedom of expression and information.