September 2016 Newsletter

by Prasad Krishna last modified Feb 06, 2017 12:51 PM
Welcome to the September 2016 newsletter of the Centre for Internet and Society (CIS).

Dear readers,

Thank you for reading the Centre for Internet and Society's September newsletter. The past month was notable for the media presence that various CIS members had. Dr. Nirmita Narasimhan continued our work looking at the inaccessibility of everyday electronics with a piece in the Huffington Post about mobile applications and their low usability for persons with disabilities.

Ting-Yi Chang continued her research into the gender gap in Wikipedia, with a series of blog posts looking at the various movements and discoveries she has made about the Indian and the global context.

We are also happy to announce that CIS, in partnership with the Centre for Information Technology and Public Policy, will organize the second Internet Researchers' Conference next year.

Previous issues of the newsletters can be accessed here.

  • CIS in partnership with Centre for Information Technology and Public Policy will organize the second Internet Researchers' Conference (IRC17) from March 3 - 5, 2017 at the International Institute of Information Technology in Bengaluru. It is a free and open conference. Sessions must be proposed by teams of two or more members on or before Friday, October 21, 2016. All submitted session proposals will go though an open review process, followed by each team that has proposed a session being invited to select ten sessions of their choice to be included in the Conference agenda. Final sessions will be chosen through these votes, and be announced on January 2, 2017.
  • In an article published in the Huffington Post, Nirmita Narasimhan threw light on the fact that mobile applications which today form an essential part of our lives such as booking cabs, ordering groceries, making payments online, or simply connecting to friends are still excluding millions of people in India particularly the visually impaired who want to use them.
  • Rohini Lakshané  has published a methodology to answer the research questions pertaining to working statements of mobile technology patents in India, also known as Form 27, using the granted patents from the landscape.
  • In furtherance to the Wikimedia Foundation’s 2011 editor survey which revealed gender imbalance on online encyclopaedia, Ting-Yi Chang in a blog post series (of three parts) has summarized the movements and discoveries about Wikipedia gender gap on both local (India) and global scales.
  • In an article published in the DNA, Subhashish Panigrahi has explained the concepts of FOSS, Free Software, Open Source, and FLOSS in light of the Software Freedom Day celebrated every year.
  • Pranesh Prakash in a response note to Unique Identification Authority of India’s (UIDAI) reply to Hans Verghese Mathews' article titled “Flaws in the UIDAI Process” (EPW, March 12, 2016) has noted that UIDAI do not illustrate the extent to which the false positive identification rates is expected to grow—neither in their initial paper, nor in their rebuttal to Mathews—whereas Mathews provides a method of estimating the increase of false positive identification rates. The article by Pranesh was published in the Economic & Political Weekly.
  • CIS made a submission to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) on Proliferation of Broadband through Public Wi­Fi Networks. Through comments prepared by Sunil Abraham, Sharath Chandra Ram, Vidushi Marda, and Thejaswi Melarkode, CIS pointed out that Wi-Fi, a radio transceiver must be deregulated further to bridge India's digital divide.

CIS in the news:

CIS members wrote the following articles


CIS is presently seeking applications for the following positions

Accessibility & Inclusion
India has an estimated 70 million persons with disabilities who don't have access to read printed materials due to some form of physical, sensory, cognitive or other disability. As part of our endeavour to make available accessible content for persons with disabilities, we are developing a text-to-speech software in 15 languages with support from the Hans Foundation. The progress made so far in the project can be accessed here.

►NVDA and eSpeak

Monthly Report

Access to Knowledge
Our Access to Knowledge programme currently consists of two projects. The Pervasive Technologies project, conducted under a grant from the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), aims to conduct research on the complex interplay between low-cost pervasive technologies and intellectual property, in order to encourage the proliferation and development of such technologies as a social good. The Wikipedia project, which is under a grant from the Wikimedia Foundation, is for the growth of Indic language communities and projects by designing community collaborations and partnerships that recruit and cultivate new editors and explore innovative approaches to building projects.

►Copyright and Patent

Blog Entry

Participation in Events

  • Workshop on Innovation, Economic Development and IP in India and China (Organised by the Singapore Management University, O.P. Jindal Global University, and Renmin University of China; New Delhi; September 27 - 28, 2016). Anubha Sinha made a presentation on Investigating Limits to Innovation and Peer Production in India's Mobile Apps Economy. Rohini Lakshané made a presentation on Exploring Open Hardware in Mass Produced Mobile Phones.
  • Law and Economy Policy Conference 2016 (Organized by National Institute of Public Finance and Policy and Institute of New Economic Thinking; India Habitat Centre, New Delhi; September 28 - 30, 2016). Sunil Abraham served as a discussant on the "Towards a privacy framework for India" session of this conference.


As part of the project grant from the Wikimedia Foundation we have reached out to more than 3500 people across India by organizing more than 100 outreach events and catalysed the release of encyclopaedic and other content under the Creative Commons (CC-BY-3.0) license in four Indian languages (21 books in Telugu, 13 in Odia, 4 volumes of encyclopaedia in Konkani and 6 volumes in Kannada, and 1 book on Odia language history in English).

Blog Entries


Our work in the Openness programme focuses on open data, especially open government data, open access, open education resources, open knowledge in Indic languages, open media, and open technologies and standards - hardware and software. We approach openness as a cross-cutting principle for knowledge production and distribution, and not as a thing-in-itself.

Participation in Event

  • Fuel Gilt Conference 2016 (Organized by Fuel Project; New Delhi; September 24 - 25, 2016). Subhashish Panigrahi participated and made a presentation.

Internet Governance

As part of its research on privacy and free speech, CIS is engaged with two different projects. The first one (under a grant from Privacy International and IDRC) is on surveillance and freedom of expression (SAFEGUARDS). The second one (under a grant from MacArthur Foundation) is on restrictions that the Indian government has placed on freedom of expression online.


Participation in Events

►Big Data

Participation in Event

►Cyber Security

Participation in Event

CIS is involved in promoting access and accessibility to telecommunications services and resources, and has provided inputs to ongoing policy discussions and consultation papers published by TRAI. It has prepared reports on unlicensed spectrum and accessibility of mobile phones for persons with disabilities and also works with the USOF to include funding projects for persons with disabilities in its mandate:


Researchers at Work
The Researchers at Work (RAW) programme is an interdisciplinary research initiative driven by an emerging need to understand the reconfigurations of social practices and structures through the Internet and digital media technologies, and vice versa. It aims to produce local and contextual accounts of interactions, negotiations, and resolutions between the Internet, and socio-material and geo-political processes:

Event Organized

Blog Entries

Participation in Event

About CIS
The Centre for Internet and Society (CIS) is a non-profit organisation that undertakes interdisciplinary research on internet and digital technologies from policy and academic perspectives. The areas of focus include digital accessibility for persons with disabilities, access to knowledge, intellectual property rights, openness (including open data, free and open source software, open standards, open access, open educational resources, and open video), internet governance, telecommunication reform, digital privacy, and cyber-security. The academic research at CIS seeks to understand the reconfigurations of social and cultural processes and structures as mediated through the internet and digital media technologies.

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Please help us defend consumer and citizen rights on the Internet! Write a cheque in favour of 'The Centre for Internet and Society' and mail it to us at No. 194, 2nd 'C' Cross, Domlur, 2nd Stage, Bengaluru - 5600 71.

► Request for Collaboration

We invite researchers, practitioners, artists, and theoreticians, both organisationally and as individuals, to engage with us on topics related internet and society, and improve our collective understanding of this field. To discuss such possibilities, please write to Sunil Abraham, Executive Director, at [email protected] (for policy research), or Sumandro Chattapadhyay, Research Director, at [email protected] (for academic research), with an indication of the form and the content of the collaboration you might be interested in. To discuss collaborations on Indic language Wikipedia projects, write to Tanveer Hasan, Programme Officer, at [email protected].

CIS is grateful to its primary donor the Kusuma Trust founded by Anurag Dikshit and Soma Pujari, philanthropists of Indian origin for its core funding and support for most of its projects. CIS is also grateful to its other donors, Wikimedia Foundation, Ford Foundation, Privacy International, UK, Hans Foundation, MacArthur Foundation, and IDRC for funding its various projects.
    ASPI-CIS Partnership


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