Aug 2020 18

The Janta Parliament is a virtual peoples’ Parliament. It is being organized jointly by several civil society initiatives and grassroots movements, to discuss urgent governance, policy and rights-based issues that have arisen during the Covid-19 pandemic, and to put forward policy suggestions to the government. Tripti Jain from the Internet Democracy Project will be making an argument in the session on Technology and Surveillance on the invitation of Article 21 Trust and Rethink Aadhaar.

The necessity for such a session arises from the fact that Parliament has not been in session since the lockdown was first imposed at the end of March 2020, and the COVID-19 pandemic continues to prevent Parliament from convening. Every government policy decision taken during the pandemic has bypassed all legislative scrutiny and democratic accountability.

The Janta Parliament aims to fill this vacuum in public discourse, by convening a group of experts, practitioners, students as well as voices from the ground across 10 thematic sessions, to set a policy agenda for our representatives when they convene for the Monsoon Session of Parliament. Every session will be curated to ensure that participants from diverse backgrounds, knowledge and experience come together to simulate a discussion similar to one in Parliament. Members of Parliament and Members of Legislative Assemblies are also invited to participate in the discussion.

The six-day Janta Parliament, which will run from 14th — 21st August, will include discussions on Health, Food Security and Nutrition, Education, Environment, Agriculture, Economy, Industry Labour and Employment, Technology and Surveillance, Impact on Vulnerable Communities, and Civil Liberties, Laws and Governance.


Session — Technology and Surveillance

Date — 18 August 2020

Time — 3:00 PM — 6:00 PM (IST)

Mode — Online 

Following suggestive issues will be discussed during this session:

  1. Concerns arising from specific technological interventions deployed to contain the pandemic and for disbursal of welfare and other benefits during the pandemic: contact tracing, health database, Aadhaar and digital governance, worker surveillance etc.

  2. The impact of these technological interventions on rights, access to services, welfare and justice

  3. Specific concerns and comments on bills and policies currently under consideration (Personal Data Protection Bill, DNA Bill, Non Personal Data )

  4. Access to technology (slow internet speed in Kashmir, access to online education etc.)

  5. Communication surveillance, freedom of expression and proposed amendments to the intermediary rules

  6. Proposed databases, commercial misuse of data and surveillance systems (migrant database, social credit system, DNA, facial recognition)

Session to be concluded with statements and policy position on ethics and government’s obligation to adopt precautions before introducing new technology in governance, and possibly a list of issues where more transparency is required from the government.

Please register for the event here.