December 2011 Bulletin

by Prasad Krishna last modified Jul 23, 2012 08:35 AM
Welcome to the newsletter issue of December 2011. This issue carries a special section on Freedom of Expression as there was much discussion regarding the Union Minister for Communications and Information Technology, Mr. Kapil Sibal’s proposal for pro-active censorship of social media.

Digital Natives with a Cause?

Digital Natives with a Cause? is a knowledge programme initiated by CIS, India and Hivos, Netherlands. It is a research inquiry that seeks to look at the changing landscapes of social change and political participation and the role that young people play through digital and internet technologies, in emerging information societies. The collaboration has produced a four book collective around ‘digital revolutions’ in a post Arab spring world, a position paper, a scouting report and three international workshops in Taipei, Johannesburg and Santiago.

Blog Entry

  • The Digital Other: Nishant Shah raises his concerns that increasingly, Digital Natives are acting as pure consumers of technology and gadgets, and seem willing to do so. The blog post was published in DML Central, 14 December 2011.


  • Digital Native Video Contest, jointly organised by CIS and Hivos. Submission guidelines and FAQs are online. Submit your proposal online by 26 January 2012.
  • Digital AlterNatives Tweet-a-Review, 17 – 26 December 2011: 'Digital Natives with a Cause?' Project invites readers to review essays from the 'Digital AlterNatives with a Cause', a four-book collective published by Centre for Internet & Society and Hivos.

Book Reviews

  • Unpacking Digital Natives from their Shiny Packaging: “The ‘Digital Natives’ concept is neither necessarily nor inherently positive, as YiPing Tsou highlights in her chapter Digital Natives in the Name of a Cause: From Flash Mob to "Human Flesh Search.” Argyri Panezi
  • On Natives, Norms and Knowledge: “It is a text I strongly recommend, especially to those interested in the reasons behind contemporary policies that try to regulate digital activism such as the US SOPA Act.” Philip Ketzel
  • Digital Native: Twin Manifestations or Co-Located Hybrids: “Ben-David’s piece is a well-articulated and informed attempt to resolve two of the several conceptual fuzziness of the term Digital Native. She attempts this in a philosophical manner: trying to move away from the ontological who are Digital Natives? to an epistemological when and where are Digital Natives?” Samuel Tettner

Pathways for Learning in Higher Education

The Pathways Project for Learning in Higher Education is a collaboration between the Higher Education Innovation and Research Applications (HEIRA) at the Centre for the Study of Culture and Society (CSCS) and the Centre for Internet and Society (CIS). The project is supported by the Ford Foundation and works with disadvantaged students in nine undergraduate colleges in Maharashtra, Karnataka and Kerala, to explore relationships between technologies, higher education and the new forms of social justice in India.

Workshop Report

  • The Digital Classroom: Social Justice and Pedagogy: Nishant Shah captures some of the questions that were thrown up and discussed at the 2 day Faculty Training workshop for participant from colleges included in the Pathways to Higher Education programme, supported by Ford Foundation and collaboratively executed by the Higher Education Innovation and Research Application and the Centre for Internet and Society, Bangalore

Blog Post

Event Organised


India has an estimated 70 million disabled persons who are unable to read printed materials due to some form of physical, sensory, cognitive or other disability. The disabled need accessible content, devices and interfaces facilitated via copyright law and electronic accessibility policies. So far we have organised Right to Read campaigns in the four metro cities of Chennai, Kolkata, Delhi and Mumbai, made a submission to amend the Indian Copyright to the HRD Ministry, researched on accessible mobile handsets in India, analysed the Working Draft of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, and published a policy handbook on e-accessibility and a book on universal service for persons with disabilities.


  • Universal Service for Persons with Disabilities: Published by G3ict and CIS in cooperation with the Hans Foundation. The book is co-authored by Axel Leblois, Executive Director, G3ict, Deepti Bharthur and Nirmita Narasimhan.
  • The Business Case for Web Accessibility: NASSCOM Foundation has published a handbook on web accessibility titled “Understanding Web Accessibility — A Guide to Create Accessible Work Environments”. Nirmita Narasimhan authored a chapter “The Business Case for Web Accessibility”.


  • Accessibility in the New Telecom Policy 2011: CIS was part of the 27 organisations that responded to the call for comments on NTP 2011. The submission was made to the Department of Telecommunications, Ministry of Communications & Information Technology, Government of India on 9 December 2011.



  • Nirmita receives NIVH Award: Nirmita Narasimhan received the NIVH Excellence Award from Justice AS Anand (retd), former chairman of the National Human Rights Commission, on International Day of Persons with Disabilities at the National Institute for the Visually Handicapped in Dehradun on Saturday, 3 December 2011. The Tribune covered the award ceremony and published this in their newspaper on 3 December 2011.

Upcoming Event

Access to Knowledge

Access to Knowledge is a campaign to promote the fundamental principles of justice, freedom, and economic development. It deals with issues like copyrights, patents, and trademarks, which are an important part of the digital landscape. We prepared the India report for the CI IP Watchlist, made submission to the HRD Ministry on WIPO Broadcast treaty, questioned the demonization of pirates, and advocated against laws (such as the PUPFIP Bill) that privatize public funded knowledge.


Blog Post


Innovation and creativity should be fostered through openness and collaboration. The advent of Internet has radically defined what it means to be open and collaborative. The Internet itself is built upon open standards and free/libre/open source software. Our endeavour has resulted in a report on open government data, a report on online video environment in India and a film on oral citations on the Wikipedia.


  • Inaugural EPT Award for Open Access: The Electronic Publishing Trust for Development is pleased to announce the winners of a new annual award to be made to individuals working in developing countries who have made a significant personal contribution to advancing the cause of open access (OA) and the free exchange of research findings. The winner of the inaugural award is Dr Francis Jayakanth of the National Centre for Science Information, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, India.

Internet Governance

The Tunis Agenda of the second World Summit on the Information Society has defined internet governance as the development and application by governments, the private sector and civil society, in their respective roles of shared principles, norms, rules, decision-making procedures and programmes that shape the evolution and use of the internet. CIS partnered with Privacy International and Society in Action Group which has produced outputs in bankingtelecommunicationsconsumer rights, media lawsexual minorities, etc., and submitted seven open letters to Parliamentary Finance Committee on UID covering several aspects, feedbacks on NIA Bill, and IT Rules.

Peer Review

Book Review

  • The Historian Wins Over the Biographer “In Walter Isaacson's eponymous biography of Steve Jobs, the multibillion dollar man who is credited with single handedly changing the face of computing and the digital media industry, we face the dilemma of a biographer: how do you make sense of a history that is so new, it is still unfolding.”
    Nishant Shah's detailed review of Steve Jobs' biography was published in the Biblio Vol. XV Nos. 11 & 12, November- December 2011

Newspaper / Magazine Articles

  • Spy in the Web The government’s proposed pre-censorship rules undermine the intelligence of an online user and endanger democracy, Nishant Shah, Indian Express, 18 December 2011.
  • What is Dilligaf? On the web, time moves at the speed of thought: Groups emerge, proliferate and are abandoned as new trends and fads take precedence. Nowhere else is this dramatic flux as apparent as in the language that evolves online, Nishant Shah, GQ India.
  • Of Surrogate Futures and Scattered Temporalities: Nishant Shah responds to Michael Edwards through this blog post published in the Broker on 27 December 2011.



  • Phishing Attacks on the Rise: Sunil Abraham was on the TV Channel News 9 on 2 December 2011 speaking about two visual cues to distinguish between the fake and the real websites.

Media Coverage

Event Report

  • Exposing Data: Art Slash Activism organised by Tactical Tech and CIS in Bangalore on 28 November 2011. Zainab Bawa, Ayisha Abraham, Ward Smith and Marek Tuszinsky gave a talk. Videos of the event are now online.

Upcoming Events

  • Privacy Matters — Analyzing the "Right to Privacy Bill": Privacy India in partnership with International Development Research Centre, Canada, Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, the Godrej Culture Lab, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai and the Centre for Internet and Society, Bangalore is organising "Privacy Matters", a public conference at IIT, Bombay on 21 January 2012.
  • The High Level Privacy Conclave: Privacy India in partnership with the International Development Research Centre, Canada, Society in Action Group, Gurgaon and Privacy International, UK is organizing the High Level Privacy Conclave at the Paharpur Business Centre, Nehru Place Greens in New Delhi on Friday, 3 February 2012.
  • All India Privacy Symposium: Privacy India in partnership with the International Development Research Centre, Canada, Society in Action Group, Gurgaon, Privacy International, UK and Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative is organizing the All India Privacy Symposium at the India International Centre, New Delhi on Saturday, 4 February 2012.

Event Organised

Special Section on Freedom of Expression

We usually cover Freedom of Expression under Internet Governance. However, this month there has been much discussion regarding the Union Minister for Communications and Information Technology, Mr. Kapil Sibal’s proposal for pro-active censorship of social media. This special section covers reportage and original content from CIS:

Newspaper / Magazine Articles

  • Invisible Censorship: How the Government Censors Without Being Seen by Pranesh Prakash: The Indian government wants to censor the Internet without being seen to be censoring the Internet. The article was translated into Marathi and featured in Lokmat, 18 December 2011.
  • US Clampdown Worse than the Great Firewall by Sunil Abraham: If you thought China’s Internet censorship was evil, think again. American moves to clean up the Web could hurt global surfers. Sunil Abraham wrote this article in Tehelka, Volume 8, Issue 50, 17 December 2011.
  • That’s the Unkindest Cut, Mr. Sibal by Sunil Abraham: There’s Kolaveri-di on the Internet over Kapil Sibal’s diktat to social media sites to prescreen users’ posts. That diktat goes far beyond the restrictions placed on our freedom of expression by the IT Act. But, says Sunil Abraham of the Centre for Internet and Society, India is not going to be silenced online. Deccan Chronicle, 11 December 2011.

Blog Posts

  • Online Pre-Censorship is Harmful and Impractical by Pranesh Prakash: The Union Minister for Communications and Information Technology, Mr. Kapil Sibal wants Internet intermediaries to pre-censor content uploaded by their users. Pranesh Prakash takes issue with this and explains why this is a problem, even if the government's heart is in the right place.
  • Press Coverage of Online Censorship Row: We are maintaining a rolling blog with press references to the row created by the proposal by the Union Minister for Communications and Information Technology to pre-screen user-generated Internet content.

Radio Broadcast

  • Social media sites refuse Indian censorship request: Sunil Abraham spoke to Radio Australia. Follow the broadcast here

Live Chat

Media Coverage

  • Caught in the Web: “As it is the status of freedom of speech in India is in a bad shape. Sibal's new rules will only make it worse.”— Sunil Abraham in Hindu Business Line, 13 December 2011.


  • Censorship — A Death Knell for Freedom of Expression Online: On 8 December 2011, NDTV aired an interesting discussion on internet censorship. Shashi Tharoor, Soli Sorabjee, Shekhar Kapoor, Ken Ghosh and Sunil Abraham participated in this discussion with NDTV's Sonia Singh.
  • FTN: Should social networking sites be censored?: Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal met the representatives of Facebook, Google and others seeking to device a screening mechanism. Sunil Abraham was on CNN-IBN from 10.00 p.m. to 10.30 p.m. speaking about freedom of expression in India.
  • Debate: Online content row-1: Sunil Abraham was on Times Now from 9.05 p.m. to 9.45 p.m. on 6 December 2011 speaking about freedom of expression in India.

Event Organised


The growth in telecommunications in India has been impressive. While the potential for growth and returns exist, a range of issues need to be addressed for this potential to be realized. One aspect is more extensive rural coverage and the second aspect is a countrywide access to broadband which is low at about eight million subscriptions. Both require effective and efficient use of networks and resources, including spectrum. In this connection, Shyam Ponappa continues to write his monthly column for the Business Standard.

Newspaper Article

  • Healing self-inflicted wounds by Shyam Ponappa, Business Standard, 1 December 2011: A spate of dysfunctional actions and retrograde developments has led to an unimaginable mess for India. Can the damage to growth prospects be undone? Does it need to be? If so, how?

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CIS is grateful to Kusuma Trust which was founded by Anurag Dikshit and Soma Pujari, philanthropists of Indian origin, for its core funding and support for most of its projects.

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