Google Policy Fellowship Program: Asia Chapter

Posted by Prasad Krishna at Feb 24, 2011 12:05 PM |
For the ardent followers of free and open Internet and for those who love to debate on technology, media law and Internet-related policy issues, there is some good news. The Centre for Internet and Society, India is conducting a Google Policy Fellowship program this summer!

Offered for the first time in Asia Pacific, the Google Policy Fellowship offers successful applicants the opportunity to develop research and debate on issues relating to freedom of expression for a minimum of ten weeks from June to August 2011. The applicants will be selected in Australia, India and Hong Kong respectively.

The Centre for Internet and Society will select the India Fellow, and is accepting applications for the position before March 27, 2011. Google is providing a USD 7,500 stipend to the India Fellow, who will be selected by April 18, 2011. 

To apply, please send to [email protected]  the following materials:

  • Statement of Purpose: A brief write-up outlining about your interest and qualifications for the programme including the relevant academic, professional and extracurricular experiences. As part of the write-up, also explain on what you hope to gain from participation in the programme and what research work concerning free expression online you would like to further through this programme. (About 1200 words max).
  • Resume
  • Three references

More information about the focus of the work that the Google Policy Fellow will take on is described below1. More information about the Google Policy Fellowship program is available in the FAQ2.

Research Agenda  Outline

The research proposals, and the fellowship itself, are to be anchored in the reality of the growing threat to civil liberties in cyberspace, with the consequent curbs on free expression that arise. The aim of the research is to chart out a comprehensive map of the legal and policy frameworks relating to free expression within the Asia-Pacific region and also examine people’s attitudes and ground-level movements relating to the same. This second component will necessarily involve some amount of empirical research: the fellows across different regions (for 2011, there will be fellows from India, Australia and Hong Kong) will be expected to use a survey on similar lines, so that the results could be adequately contrasted.

The research would involve but not necessarily be limited to the following areas:

Understanding Dissent

This component would involve looking at how dissent is negotiated in the region by the legal system and the ways in which governments seek to stifle and control online dissent. Specific points of interrogation would include:

  1. The extent to which the constitution and other laws in the region protect freedom of expression and the extent to which they are enforced.
  2. Judicial decisions relating to free expression, censorship and dissent. Have they examined how speech and other activities on the Internet should be afforded free speech protection?
  3. The kind of material deemed objectionable and subject to censorship and/or penalization.
  4. The kind of penalties placed on writers, commentators and bloggers for posting objectionable materials on the Internet.
  5. Understanding the economic environment in which free expression operates: chains of media ownership, state restrictions on the means of journalistic production and distribution, and the levels of state control through allocation of advertising or subsidies would be part of this question.
  6. Further, what are the laws relating to encryption and telecom security, as well as to intermediary liability, and how do they affect free expression?

Understanding Free Expression

To be examined here is the question of how freedom of expression is perceived by people. What is the extent to which people believe the right is available to them — as balanced by conceivably conflicting rights such as privacy?

  1. One part of proceeding on this would be to track a set of activist bloggers, gauging their take on various issues.
  2. Another part would include tracking public opinion through comments pages on articles relating to free speech issues; taking a survey or coordinating focus group research. However, this is by no means the most reliable way to gauge the same and is, in particular, one area that will require an appropriate methodology to be developed by the fellows in consultation with the partner organizations.

Both these components are essential in being able to proceed with the third aspect, mentioned below.

Understanding and Facilitating Movements

This final aspect will involve looking at how free expression advocates come together, or fail to do so.

  1. Is there a defined activist community in the region?
  2. If not, what are the possible reasons behind failure of collaboration or organization? Have there been attempts towards the same?

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Google Policy Fellowship program?

The Google Policy Fellowship program offers students interested in Internet and technology related policy issues with an opportunity to spend their summer working on these issues at the Centre for Internet and Society at Bangalore. Students will work for a period of ten weeks starting from June 2011. The research agenda for the program is based on legal and policy frameworks in the region connected to the ground-level perception of free expression.
Applications for the Fellowship should carry these:

  • Statement of Purpose: A brief write-up outlining about your interest and qualifications for the programme including the relevant academic, professional and extracurricular experiences. As part of the write-up, also explain on what you hope to gain from participation in the programme and what research work concerning free expression online you would like to further through this programme. (About 1200 words max).
  • Resume
  • Three  references

Important Dates
What is the program timeline?

 March 27, 2011:

Student application deadline; applications must be received by midnight 00:00 GMT. 

April 18, 2011:

 Student applicants are notified of the status of their applications.

 June 2011:

 Students begin their fellowship with the host organization (start date to be determined by students and the host organization); Google issues initial student stipends. 

 July 2011:

 Mid-term evaluations; Google issues mid-term stipends.

August 2011:

 Final evaluations; Google issues final stipends.

EligibilityI am an International student can I apply and participate in the program?

Are there any age restrictions on participating?

Yes. You must be 18 years of age or older by 1 January 2011 to be eligible to participate in Google Policy Fellowship program in 2011.

Are there citizenship requirements for the Fellowship?

For the time being, we are only accepting students eligible to work in India (e.g. Indian citizens, permanent residents of India, and individuals presently holding an Indian student visa. Google cannot provide guidance or assistance on obtaining the necessary documentation to meet the criteria.

Who is eligible to participate as a student in Google Policy Fellowship program?

In order to participate in the program, you must be a student. Google defines a student as an individual enrolled in or accepted into an accredited institution including (but not necessarily limited to) colleges, universities, masters programs, PhD programs and undergraduate programs. Eligibility is based on enrollment in an accredited university by 1 January 2011.

I am an International student can I apply and participate in the program?

In order to participate in the program, you must be a student (see Google's definition of a student above). You must also be eligible to work in India (see section on citizen requirements for fellowship above). Google cannot provide guidance or assistance on obtaining the necessary documentation to meet this criterion.

I have been accepted into an accredited post-secondary school program, but have not yet begun attending. Can I still take part in the program?

As long as you are enrolled in a college or university program as of 1 January 2011, you are eligible to participate in the program.

I graduate in the middle of the program. Can I still participate?

As long as you are enrolled in a college or university program as of 1 January 2011, you are eligible to participate in the program.

Payments, Forms, and Other Administrative Stuff

How do payments work*?
Google will provide a stipend of USD 7,500 equivalent to each Fellow for the summer.
  • Accepted students in good standing with their host organization will receive a USD 2,500 stipend payable shortly after they begin the Fellowship in June 2011.
  • Students who receive passing mid-term evaluations by their host organization will receive a USD 1,500 stipend shortly after the mid-term evaluation in July 2011.
  • Students who receive passing final evaluations by their host organization and who have submitted their final program evaluations will receive a USD 3,500 stipend shortly after final evaluations in August 2011.
Please note: Payments will be made by electronic bank transfer, and are contingent upon satisfactory evaluations by the host organization, completion of all required enrollment and other forms. Fellows are responsible for payment of any taxes associated with their receipt of the Fellowship stipend.

*While the three step payment structure given here corresponds to the one in the United States, disbursement of the amount may be altered as felt necessary. 

What documentation is required from students?

Students should be prepared, upon request, to provide Google or the host organization with transcripts from their accredited institution as proof of enrollment or admission status. Transcripts do not need to be official (photo copy of original will be sufficient).

I would like to use the work I did for my Google Policy Fellowship to obtain course credit from my university. Is this acceptable?

Yes. If you need documentation from Google to provide to your school for course credit, you can contact Google. We will not provide documentation until we have received a final evaluation from your mentoring organization.

Host Organizations

What is Google's relationship with the Centre for Internet and Society?

Google provides the funding and administrative support for individual fellows directly. Google and the Centre for Internet and Society are not partners or affiliates. The Centre for Internet and Society does not represent the views or opinions of Google and cannot bind Google legally.

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