June 2012 Bulletin

by Prasad Krishna last modified Jul 25, 2012 04:56 AM
Welcome to the newsletter issue of June 2012. The present issue features an updated version of the Unlicensed Spectrum Policy brief for Government of India and a report of the Privacy Matters series organised in Ahmedabad on June 16, 2012.

Digital Natives

Digital Natives with a Cause? examines the changing landscape of social change and political participation in light of the role that young people play through digital and Internet technologies, in emerging information societies. Consolidating knowledge from Asia, Africa and Latin America, it builds a global network of knowledge partners who critically engage with discourse on youth, technology and social change, and look at alternative practices and ideas in the Global South:

New Blog Entries

Digital Natives Newsletter

  • Home Alone: Volume 10, Issue 1, April 2012 of the Digital Natives with a Cause newsletter features Hyper-connected, yet Hyper-lonely. It puts the spotlight on an emerging trope in society and media: the more connected we are to our gadgets, peer network and social media, the lonelier we feel.

Access to Knowledge

The Access to Knowledge programme addresses the harms caused to consumers, developing countries, human rights, and creativity/innovation from excessive regimes of copyright, patents, and other such monopolistic rights over knowledge:

Op-ed in the Hindu

  • The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Injunctions (Lawrence Liang, The Hindu, May 23, 2012): “The same ‘Ashok Kumar,' now restrained from infringing the copyright of the film, ‘3,' helped its signature song, ‘Kolaveri,’ go viral by downloading and copying it without any restraints.”

Columns / Articles

  • ಸೃಜನಶೀಲತೆಗೆ ಸಂದ ಗೌರವ (Lawrence Liang, Prajavani, June 9, 2012): Read the English translation here.
  • Copyright Amendment: Bad, but Could Have Been Much Worse (Sunil Abraham, Business Standard, June 10, 2012): The changes to the Copyright Act protect the disabled — but are restrictive about cover versions and web freedom.
  • A Ludicrous Ban (Achal Prabhala and Lawrence Liang, Open Magazine, June 2, 2012): Our courts cannot be used as quack-houses to buy pills for imaginary problems. The copyright industry is not a sick patient; it’s just a hypochondriac. Films don’t fail because of piracy; they fail because they’re not worth watching. The most popular films in this country are also the most pirated, and yet they remain money-spinners. The real problem is the unbending inability of this industry to adjust to the world; to the Internet; to the life-changing technologies that human beings have witnessed and embraced and prospered by over the past two decades.


The 'Openness' programme critically examines alternatives to existing regimes of intellectual property rights, and transparency and accountability. Under this programme, we study Open Government Data, Open Access to Scholarly Literature, Open Content, Open Standards, Open Access to Law, and Free/Libre/Open Source Software:

Media Coverage

  • Wiki goes the oral citation way (Cyber Media, Chokkapan S, June 11, 2012): Achal Prabhala who serves on the board of CIS speaks about the Oral Citations Project.

Internet Governance

The Internet Governance programme conducts research around the various social, technical, and political underpinnings of global and national Internet governance, and includes online privacy, freedom of speech, and Internet governance mechanisms and processes:


Press Coverage of the Internet Freedom Fellows Event

Peer Forum

Upcoming & Ongoing Events

  • Privacy Matters — Consumer Privacy (India International Centre, New Delhi, July 7, 2012): Privacy India, in partnership with the Centre for Internet & Society, International Development Research Centre, Society in Action Group and Privacy International, invite you to a public conference focused on discussing the challenges and concerns to consumer privacy in India.
  • The Fifth Elephant (NIMHANS Convention Centre, Bangalore, July 27 and 28, 2012): The event was organised by HasGeek and CIS. The first day covered the technology track and talks from business and industry were held on the following day.

Events Organised

  • Privacy Mattes — Medical Privacy (Yashwantrao Chavan Academy of Development Administration, Rajbhavan Complex, Baner Road, Pune, June 30, 2012): Privacy India in partnership with the Indian Network for People living with HIV/AIDS, Centre for Internet & Society, IDRC, Society in Action Group and Privacy International organised this event. The discussions explored the various types of medical privacy including informational privacy, physical privacy, proprietary privacy and decisional privacy.
  • GeekUp with Alan Knott-Craig (CIS, Bangalore, June 30, 2012): Alan Knott-Craig, founder of World of Avatar and CEO of Mxit, Africa’s largest social network gave a lecture.
  • Freedom of Expression & Privacy Roundtable Discussion (University of Goa, June 2, 2012): Lawrence Liang and Chinmayi Arun were participants in the discussion.

Connecting People Apart - Events Series

Post-Media Lab organised this events series at Lüneburg/Berlin from June 20 to June 23, 2012. Nishant Shah participated in the event series as a speaker:

Other Events Participated

  • India Privacy Meet (Hotel LeMeridien, New Delhi, June 29, 2012): The event was organised by Microsoft, DSCI and Greyhead. Sunil Abraham was a panelist in the session on Citizen Privacy.
  • Meeting of the two Sub-Groups on Privacy Issues under the Chairmanship of Justice AP Shah (Yojana Bhawan, Planning Commission, June 27, 2012). Sunil Abraham participated in this meeting. The report of the committee will be used in drafting of the new privacy bill.
  • CENSORSHIP 2020: The Future of Free Speech Online (Communication, Culture and Technology Program of Georgetown University 2nd Floor, Car Barn, 3520 Prospect St., N.W., Washington, DC, June 25, 2012): Pranesh Prakash participated in this event organised by the Internet Society. See the original published by Communication, Culture & Technology here.
  • Multi-Stakeholder Consultation on ‘Internet Rights, Accessibility, Regulation & Ethics’ (Mirza Ghalib Hall, SCOPE Complex, New Delhi, May 3, 2012): Pranesh Prakash was a speaker in this event organised by Digital Empowerment Foundation, Association for Progressive Communications, Department of Information Technology and National Internet Exchange of India. Watch the video here.
  • Internet at Liberty 2012 (Washington D.C., May 23 and 24, 2012): Sunil Abraham was a speaker in Plenary IV along with Cynthia Wong, Mohamed El Dahshan and Dunja Mijatović. Watch the video here. The event was organised by Google.
  • Google Hangout with Ashoka Fellow Sunil Abraham: Ashoka Fellows are leading social entrepreneurs who have innovative solutions to social problems and the potential to change patterns across society. Sunil became an Ashoka Fellow in 1999. Watch the video.
  • Clear and Present Danger: Attempts to Change Internet Governance and Implications for Press Freedom (National Endowment for Democracy, Washington D.C., June 26, 2012): The event was organised by National Endowment for Democracy. Pranesh Prakash participated in it.
  • Overview of Google’s efforts to promote Internet Freedom and freedom of expression online, including its work on the following reports: “Google Transparency” and “Enabling Trade in the Era of Information Technologies: Breaking Down Barriers to the Free Flow of Information (California, June 28, 2012): The event was organised by Google. Pranesh Prakash participated in a meeting with Derek Slater from Google.
  • Stanford University Roundtable Discussion (California, June 28, 2012): IFF Fellows introduced themselves and briefly talked about their background and work in internet freedom and human rights issues. Pranesh Prakash was one of the participants.
  • EFF’s legislative efforts to defend free speech, privacy, innovation, and consumer rights (California, June 29, 2012): Pranesh Prakash participated in a meeting with Katitza Rodriguez, International Rights Director.
  • Overview of Twitter’s new censorship policies and its impact on human rights activists around the world (California, June 29, 2012): Pranesh Prakash participated in a meeting with Carolina Janssen, Localization Content Coordinator. This was organised by Twitter.
  • Best practices in utilizing Ustream’s live interactive broadcast platform to showcase human rights issues (June 29, 2012): Pranesh Prakash participated in this meeting organised by Ustream.

Event Report

  • Securing e-Governance: Ensuring Data Protection and Privacy (Ahmedabad, Management Association, Ahmedabad, June 16, 2012): Privacy India in partnership with the Centre for Internet & Society, Bangalore, International Development Research Centre, Canada, Privacy International, UK and the Society in Action Group, Gurgaon organised a public discussion. Prashant Iyengar and Nisha Thompson spoke at the event. A total of 30 people participated in the event.

Columns in FirstPost

  • How Facebook is Blatantly Abusing our Trust (Nishant Shah, FirstPost, June 27, 2012): ‘Don’t fix it, if it ain’t broken’ is not an adage Facebook seems to subscribe to... The million dollar question – or maybe a slightly reduced price, given its public listing status on the stock-exchange right now – is that while Facebook might keep us safe from other people using our data, will it also be able to keep us safe from itself?
  • Beyond Anonymous: Shit people say on Internet piracy (Nishant Shah, FirstPost, June 7, 2012): FirstPost published Nishant Shah's column along with the video that CIS and ALF had made on 'shit people say about piracy' as a lead story. The post is a series of provocations around piracy, censorship and the state of Internet in India. Like all good tasting things, these observations need to be taken with a pinch of salt. But it is the hope of the author that this serves as a response to otherwise very persistent voices that have been demonizing file-sharing online.

Article in the Times of India

  • The Web of Our Strife (Pranesh Prakash, The Times of India, June 2, 2012): Given the current trend of states individually wielding excessive powers over various aspects of how their citizens access and use the internet, a Committee on Internet-Related Policies may well be what is needed to safeguard democratic principles and innovation on the internet.


  • An Interview with Nishant Shah by Jamillah Knowles (Outriders, BBC Radio 5): “I think what we need to do is perhaps say that there is something happening with the internet in India and then maybe we can move on to figuring out what is happening to Anonymous because we had a series of challenges on freedom of speech and expression and online space in the country.”

New Fellow at CIS

  • Chinmayi Arun, former Assistant Professor of Law at the West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences joined CIS as a Fellow. Chinmayi’s research focus will include privacy, free speech and access to information.

New Blog Entries

CIS entered into a small collaboration with Tata Telecommunications in India to celebrate the IPv6 day on June 6. CIS agreed to write 5500 word vignettes which were sent to their global database consisting of more than 900,000 users in the Asia-Pacific:

News & Media Coverage (International)

  • India's struggle for online freedom (by Rebecca MacKinnon, Sydney Morning Herald, June 9, 2012): “If you start the drenching early on, by the time you get to 50 per cent [internet penetration], everyone will be well-behaved monkeys.”—Sunil Abraham.
  • Hackers Take Protest to Indian Streets and Cyberspace (by Shreya Shah, Wall Street Journal, June 8, 2012): “The group attacked the Web site of India’s Supreme Court even when it says it does not attack Web sites used by the common man.” — Pranesh Prakash.
  • The War for India's Internet (by Rebecca Mackinnon, Foreign Policy, June 6, 2012): “"On free speech I have high faith in the Indian judiciary...There is a good chance to launch a constitutional challenge.” — Sunil Abraham.

News & Media Coverage (National)


While the potential for growth and returns exist for telecommunications in India, a range of issues need to be addressed. One aspect is more extensive rural coverage and the other is a countrywide access to broadband which is low. Both require effective and efficient use of networks and resources, including spectrum:

Telecom Knowledge Repository

Ford Foundation has given CIS a grant of USD 200,000 to build expertise in the area of Telecommunications in India over a period of two years. The programme outline, the modules covered and the profiles and bios of our expert reviewers can be found here:


Emerging Topics

Featured Research

  • Unlicensed Spectrum Policy Brief for Government of India (Satya N Gupta, Sunil Abraham and Yelena Gyulkhandanyan): CIS and the Ford Foundation bring you the Unlicensed Spectrum Policy brief for Government of India. The research recommends unlicensed spectrum to the Government of India based on recent developments in wireless technology, community needs and international best practices. (The present report is an updated version of the draft circulated earlier).

Column in Business Standard

  • Growth, India's Highest Priority (Shyam Ponappa, Business Standard, June 8, 2012): Telecom and spectrum reforms are overdue, as are energy reforms addressing the fuel supply-power generation and distribution-sustainable tariffs chain. In terms of sequence, the next significant effort could focus on the… telecom sector. The empowered group of ministers can decisively abandon short-term government revenues in favour of user benefits, leading in time to even more government revenues.

New Blog Entry

Event Report

  • 3rd IJLT-CIS Lecture Series (National Law School of India University, Nagarbhavi, Bangalore, May 27, 2012): Prof. Rohan Samarajiva, Chairman and CEO, LIRNEasia gave the inaugural lecture on “Tariff Regulation in South Asia”. The presentation slides can be accessed here.

Foreign Press Coverage

  • India’s telecom success story turns sour (by Simon Denyer, Washington Post, June 1, 2012): “"There are very strong economic reasons for not auctioning spectrum in developing countries.” — Shyam Ponappa.

About CIS

CIS was registered as a society in Bangalore in 2008. As an independent, non-profit research organisation, it runs different policy research programmes such as Accessibility, Access to Knowledge, Openness, Internet Governance, and Telecom. Over the last four years our policy research programmes have resulted in outputs such as the e-Accessibility Policy Handbook for Persons with Disabilities with ITU and G3ict, and Digital Alternatives with a Cause?, Thinkathon Position Papers and the Digital Natives with a Cause? Report with Hivos. With foreign governments we worked on National Enterprise Architecture and Government Interoperability Framework for Govt. of Iraq; Open Standards Policy for Govt. of Moldova; Free and Open Software Centre of Excellence project plan for Saudi Arabia; eGovernance Strategy Document for Govt. of Tajikistan. With the Government of India we have done policy research for Ministry of Communications & Information Technology, Ministry of Human Resource Development, Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions, Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, etc., on WIPO Treaties, Copyright Bill, Interoperability Framework in eGovernance, Privacy Bill, NIA Bill, National Policy on Electronics and IT Act.

CIS is an accredited NGO at WIPO and has given policy briefs to delegations from various countries, our Programme Manager, Nirmita Narasimhan won the National Award for Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities from the Government of India and also received the NIVH Excellence Award.

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CIS is grateful to its donors, Ford Foundation, Privacy International, UK, Hans Foundation and the 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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