Engaging with the Covid-19 Crisis

Posted by Pranav M B at Jul 15, 2020 09:05 AM |
In the last six months, COVID-19 has had a far-reaching impact on the world, including on the digital sphere, how people interact with it, and its mediation of social and economic exchanges. Researchers and practitioners at the Centre for Internet and Society (CIS) have responded to this dynamic landscape from different lenses.

 

WikiProject India COVID-19 Task Force

The Access to Knowledge team at CIS, along with the Wikidata editor community has been maintaining a reliable district and state-wise database of COVID-19 case statistics in India (link). If you are a Wikidata editor, please consider contributing or encouraging others to join this effort. 

COVID-19 Apps

  1. Based on publicly available information, Pallavi Bedi presents a comparative analysis of COVID-19 apps launched by different state governments in India, and examines their governing policies regarding privacy and data protection (link).

  2. In light of the central-government’s release of the contact tracing app Aarogya Setu, Siddharth Sonkar’s report seeks to constructively engage with privacy concerns surrounding the app and its operations, and works towards making privacy safeguards governing its operability more consistent with international best practices (link).

  3. Amber Sinha examines the false binary between privacy and surveillance created during a pandemic, and proposes a necessary and proportional method of contact tracing (link).

  4. Aman Nair writes about the lack of oversight present in the Kerala government’s deal with Sprinklr Inc, the violations to the right to privacy, and how legislation that is currently being proposed would fail to prevent situations like this in the future (link).

Gig Economy and Labour Rights

  1. With Tandem Research, CIS organized a webinar to interact with unions representing gig workers and researchers studying labour rights and gig work, to uncover the experiences of gig workers during the lockdown. Based on the discussion, a charter of recommendations was prepared with contributions from participants, and was shared with public and private stakeholders (link).

  2. With support from three domestic workers’ unions, the Domestic Workers Rights Union, Bruhat Bangalore Gruhakarmika Sangha, and Manegelasa Kaarmikara Union, Geeta Menon put together a report that shines light on the plight of domestic workers in Bengaluru during the lockdowns, and now as the lockdown eases. It focuses on how government and administrative bodies, and resident welfare associations, have been culpable in further pushing domestic workers to the margins (link).

  3. Aayush Rathi and Sreyan Chatterjee argue how the suspension of labour laws proposed (and enforced) by several states in India as a part of their COVID-19 impact response, have material and discursive impact on the future of work in India (link).

  4. Ambika Tandon discusses the impact of Covid-19 on the gig economy in Asia, especially reflecting on the measures (or lack thereof) taken by companies to support workers (link).

  5. Zothan Mawii, Aayush Rathi and Ambika Tandon spoke with the leaders of four workers' unions and labour researchers, including the Indian Federation of App-based Transport Workers (IFAT) and the Ola and Uber Drivers and Owners’ Association (OTU), to identify recommended actions that public agencies and private companies may undertake to better support the urgent needs of gig workers in India (link).

Lateral Surveillance

  1. Drawing from multifaceted research on surveillance around the world, Mira Swaminathan and Shubhika Saluja analyse the unique domain of lateral surveillance, and its heightened impacts on the ‘culture of suspicion’ created between social classes, especially during a pandemic (link). 

  2. On the latest episode of our In Flux podcast, Shweta Reddy and Mira Swaminathan discuss COVID-19 related surveillance with Torsha Sarkar, and talk about balancing a public health objective with protection of our fundamental rights (link). 

 Misinformation

  1. In an article in The Wire, Mira Swaminathan argues that the only efficient and effective way to prevent the spread of misinformation related to the pandemic is self-verification, which means that people who consume the data on an everyday basis must educate themselves and acquire the skills to tackle it (link). 

  2. Torsha Sarkar examines content moderation measures taken by online intermediaries to tackle harmful information related to COVID-19 on their platforms, and the recommended ways in which information around these decisions can be preserved for better research going forward (link). 

Gender justice

  1. In light of a large digital divide across the usage of technology by women, Ambika Tandon and Mira Swaminathan examine how effective calls to domestic abuse helplines are during lockdown (link).

Data Protection

  1. As part of The Bastion’s series on the education sector and children’s privacy, Pallavi Bedi writes about protecting the privacy of children on ed-tech platforms, especially as students are now more than ever dependent on such platforms for their learning (link).

  2. Shweta Reddy was a panelist on Medianama’s Roundtable on Privacy in the era of COVID-19, where she spoke about privacy checks for data collection process for the purposes of public health during the pandemic (link).

  3. Gurshabad Grover was a discussant for the webinar on Health, Encryption & COVID-19: Keeping people and countries safer online, organized by Internet Society, Center for Democracy and Technology and Global Partners Digital, where he spoke about recent threats to end-to-end encrypted communications, including ‘traceability’ in India and the EARN IT in the US (link).

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