Posts by Nayantara Ranganathan

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  • 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

  • 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

  • NEW VIDEO: Trusting on the Internet – Remixed Proverbs

    Don’t take icecream from a stranger.” Children from many parts of the world hear versions of this. Depending on the context, it can be a message honing trust, a message encouraging suspicion of people who are different from oneself, and so on. Whether or not we agree with these messages, one thing is certain: we have a lot of language that teaches us about trust: how to not trust too much, or too little. What does the equivalent on the Internet look like? We created a new video to help you answer this question.   More

  • The seduction of data sovereignty in India

    As currently conceptualised in India, data sovereignty threatens Indians’ individual sovereignty, undermines citizen rights, and is a lost chance to meaningfully grapple with data colonisation, argues Nayantara Ranganathan in this column, originally published in the Hindustan times, on 26 August 2019. The column is the last in a four part series on data governance in India by the Data Governance Network.   More

  • Online Gods Podcast, featuring our work on Gendering Surveillance

    Listen to episode #15 of Online Gods podcast, on News Images and Surveillance, where Nayantara speaks to Ian M. Cook about the Internet Democracy Project’s work, specifically in regards to our research and workshops on gender and surveillance. About Online Gods: Online Gods is a monthly podcast on digital cultures and their political ramifications, featuring lively conversations with scholars and activists.   More

  • Deciphering the Aadhaar verdict

    Alternative Law Forum, the Internet Democracy Project and the Right to Food campaign of Karnataka organised a public meeting on the Aadhaar verdict, which was delivered in September this year. The meeting was intended to be a forum to discuss the 1448 pages long judgment, which deals with the issues …   More

  • Solving for data justice: A response to the draft Personal Data Protection Bill

    Instead of understanding data’ as a resource to be tapped, what if we employ other metaphors around data? How does that change our reading of the draft Personal Data Protection Bill? Data as bodies, data as labour, data as exhaust, data as distraction – so much turns on which metaphor we choose to give precedence to! Taking this as a starting point, a group of activists and researchers got together to understand what the draft Personal Data Protection Bill means for social movements and issues they might be embedded in, and in turn, how different movements can contribute their wisdom to strengthen the bill. This was jointly drafted by participants following two workshops organised in Bangalore and Delhi by the Internet Democracy Project in September 2018.   More

    Research