Posts by Anja Kovacs

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  • Consent continues to be a crucial element of data protection regimes around the world. However, as a tool to promote and protect individuals’ autonomy, it has been diagnosed with numerable weaknesses. While there have been suggestions that it is therefore time to move away from consent altogether, we propose a different approach. Data protection regimes first need to reconceptualise the nature of data, by recognising the need to centre bodies in debates on data governance. Once the entanglement between bodies and data has been acknowledged, data governance regimes can, then, adopt feminist principles of consent that build on insights developed in numerous offline contexts and which allow us to imagine data relations that enable people to actually move closer to the ideal of meaningful consent. This policy brief was first published by the Data Governance Network.   More

    Policy Brief

  • What’s sex got to do with it? Mapping the impact of questions of gender and sexuality on the evolution of the digital rights landscape in India

    Taking as its starting point key High Court and Supreme Court cases in particular, this report seeks to map the many ways in which jurisprudence at the intersection of gender, sexuality, and digital rights has reduced, and at times expanded, digital rights in India. As our analysis will show, all too often, when it comes to digital rights too, anxieties surrounding women’s sexuality continue to justify court cases and jurisprudence that are geared towards protecting middle class morality and a very narrow vision of Indian culture”, rather than gender and sexuality rights. Whether women are objects or subjects of state control, the negative effect on our digital rights is considerable. This is particularly true where the right to freedom of expression is concerned, but even the lopsided ways in which the right to anonymity and to be forgotten are evolving in Indian jurisprudence is deeply reflective of this dynamic. However, another way is possible. When courts put gender and sexuality rights front and centre, this report will show, possibilities to meaningfully exercise our rights immediately expand.   More

    Research

  • While consent continues to be a crucial element of data protection regimes around the world, it has also been diagnosed with numerous weaknesses as a tool to promote and protect individuals’ autonomy. In this paper, we set out to learn from feminist theory around consent in general and feminist applied thinking around sexual consent in particular how consent regimes in data protection can be strengthened. We argue that such a journey will be promising because of the close entanglements between our bodies and our data. We particularly foreground feminist criticisms of the concept of property in the person” to understand in more detail the profound harms that current data practices do to our personhood, as well as the ways in which consent is currently deployed to enable and even legitimise such practices, rather than challenge or reject them. Through close engagement with feminist thinking around consent, we then develop a list of feminist principles that will need to be followed if consent is to ever be meaningful in data governance. Finally, we outline three areas of change that the application of these principles immediately points to: changes related to the collection of data; changes related to the uses of data; and changes required to protect people who are especially vulnerable in particular. Making these shifts, we argue, is essential if we are to put into place a data infrastructure that is actually empowering for, rather than exploitative of people. This paper was first published by the Data Governance Network.   More

    Research

  • Data sovereignty, of whom? Limits and suitability of sovereignty frameworks for data in India — A policy brief

    The concept of sovereignty has come to frame a number of data governance proposals by the Indian government. To understand the scope, import and consequences of these reassertions of sovereignty, it is, however, important to unpack the nature of the claims that have been put forward. In particular, to what extent do these promote the exercise of autonomy and choice by the Indian people? In order to benefit the people of India, assertions of sovereignty in the face of data colonialism will need to take into account that data is not merely a resource out there”, but increasingly functions as an extension of our bodies. As this analysis will show, current conceptualisations of data sovereignty fail to do so; for now, they therefore merely entail a transfer of power to domestic elites while doing little to return sovereignty to the people of India. This policy brief was first published by the Data Governance Network.   More

    Policy Brief

  • Reclaiming the person in non-personal data. Our submission in response to Expert Committee’s report on Non Personal Data

    The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology invited public comments for consultation on the Non-Personal Data Governance Framework, Report. The report has been drafted by a committee of experts under the chairmanship of K. Gopalakrishnan. The committee prescribes for a framework to govern non personal data, it categorises non personal data into various categories and suggests mechanisms to reap maximum economic value from non personal data. On 13th September, the Internet Democracy Project made a submission to the consultation, highlighting fundamental concerns as well as making additional comments on the Non Personal Data and some other concepts discussed in the report.   More

    Policy Submission

  • Thou shalt build NODEs in the air, but would that be fair? Our submission in response to the NODE White Paper

    The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology invited public comments for consultation on the National Open Digital Ecosystems (NODE), White Paper. The paper proposes for a paradigm shift from earlier approaches to digital governance. It aims to build a citizen centric, interoperable and open digital ecosystem, in order to do that it presents certain principles and use cases. On 31 May, the Internet Democracy Project made a submission into the consultation, highlighting fundamental concerns as well as making additional comments on the NODE guiding principles against the backdrop of these concerns.    More

    Policy Submission

  • Data sovereignty, of whom? Limits and suitability of sovereignty frameworks for data in India

    Sovereignty is seeing renewed relevance in the age of data in India as it has become the framework of choice in a number of data governance proposals by the Indian government. To understand the scope, import and consequences of these reassertions of sovereignty, however, it is important to unpack the nature of these claims as they have been put forward. In particular, to what extent does this type of sovereignty allow for the exercise of autonomy and choice of the Indian people? This paper will demonstrate that such assessments crucially depend on how we construct the nature of data. In most dominant discourses, data is described as a resource of some sort. However, in practice the line between our physical bodies and our virtual bodies is increasingly becoming irrelevant: data, then, emerges not so much as a resource that is simply out there, but as an extension of our bodies. In order to benefit the people of India, assertions of sovereignty in the face of data colonialism will need to take these shifting realities regarding the nature of data into account. Through an assessment of policy proposals relating to sovereignty in the realm of data and new technologies, we seek to examine to what extent policy in India does indeed recognise these new realities, and what the value of these new assertions of sovereignty for the people of India consequently is.   More

    Research

  • We are hiring! Help us take forward our work on bodies and data governance

    APPLICATIONS ARE NOW CLOSED The Internet Democracy Project works towards realising feminist visions of the digital in society, by exploring and addressing power imbalances in the areas of norms, governance and infrastructure, through in-depth research, advocacy and debate. Among our current priorities is the development of a feminist approach to data. In particular, we are conducting groundbreaking work that explores how our conceptualisation of our bodies is fundamentally changing as the line between our physical bodies and our virtual bodies is becoming increasingly irrelevant. We now have three openings on our team to explore the policy implications of these paradigmatic shifts in how we see our bodies (and thus data) for data governance: we are looking for a Policy and Advocacy Lead, a Senior Researcher, and a Researcher.   More

  • We are hiring! Help us take forward our work on gender and online abuse

    APPLICATIONS ARE NOW CLOSED The Internet Democracy Project has conducted pioneering work on the issue of gender and online abuse in India since 2012. We are now looking for three short-term consultants to help us take this work forward between now and December 2019: two research consultants and one gender and advocacy technology consultant. For more details, please see below! People from marginalised backgrounds are particularly encouraged to apply.   More