In this technology-driven era, where our actions, searches and preferences have too little privacy. Our browsing history is monetized. This calls for the need to implement policies about Data Surveillance and Pegasus and discussion on how these policies would impact Indian tech requires deliberation.
To discuss the minimalists of the Impact of ‘Tech Rules on India’s Atmanirbhar Tech Arena’, Impact and Policy Research Institute (IMPRI), New Delhi, organised an insightful #WebPolicyTalks under The State of Governance – #PublicPolicy. The speaker of the session was Dr Charru Malhotra, Coordinator, Centre for e-governance, Indian Institute of Public Administration, New Delhi. The session was moderated by Prof Amita Singh, President, NAPSIPAG, Disaster Research Group, Prof. (Retd.), Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), New Delhi. Special Remark was delivered by Shri SN Tripathi, Director General, Indian Institute of Public Administration, New Delhi, and Mr Chetan SK Sharma and Mr Amit Dubey joined as discussants on October 26, 2021.
Shri SN Tripathi initiated the discussion with his special remarks on the topic. He emphasised the need for regulatory and legal rules for social media platforms. He mentioned that the Supreme Court has called the Right to Privacy a fundamental right through the Justice K.S. Puttaswamy vs Union of India case. He agreed with the fact that for any information to be shared, the consent and the minimalist information principle should be followed which seems to be completely absent in these platforms.
He called that OTT platforms are ‘Over The Top’, but not over the governance, and no platform can change the democratic discourse of any country. He raised pertinent questions like do we have alternatives in India to these big platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.
He said that extinction of indigenous languages, data privacy concerns and non-alignment with the country’s law of these tech giants could be an opportunity for the Indian Tech to come up and establish themselves.
Dr Charru Malhotra elucidated the topic deeply through her research work. She explained tech and the three foundational technologies, which are cloud computing, big data, and analytics and cybersecurity. She enlightened the audience on the new emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, immersive technologies and digital platforms. She also mentioned the repercussions of these machines replacing humans blindly, unethical hacks, and biased databases. Iterating her ideas she delineated her PEST Dilemma for NAT in governance, which included political, economic, social and technical dilemmas ranging from the weaponisation of AI to unwieldy e-waste and dependence on machines.
She claimed that technology is changing but the policy isn’t. Drawing the attention of the audience to NATs and National Interests like cybersecurity, cybercrime, confidence building, internet freedom, privacy concerns like Drone Rules, Aug 2021, etc, she pointed out some key loopholes of technology adoption in India. She also propagated some of the ways like Regulation to Self-Regulation Principle, strict laws at a national level, digital hygiene, etc.
Prof. Amita Singh, reemphasising the statement, said that technology mainly depends on the mindset of the people who are working on the algorithms and the people who use the product are in some way or the other affected by that psychology. She also insisted on the problem of data privacy or surveillance.
Mr Chetan SK Sharma told about India’s glory in the IT sector and innovation and how that collapsed at the infant stage due to bureaucracy and red-tapism. He claimed we have become masters in slavery because of bureaucrats. He also reaffirmed the need for regulation and an eye on the working of these tech giants.
The session ended with a Q&A session and with certain questions raised like can we design software in order to gauge the extension of these regressive elements such as gender, class, poverty, race, colour and untouchability.
Overall, a conclusion was drawn that there is a need for advocacy and sensitisation on these platforms and the greenness of technology. We need to bring rules and regulations for these tech giants and platforms but with an approach that is democratic with regulations.
Acknowledgement: Divya Singh is a Research Intern at IMPRI.