• Data

    The definitive buzzword of the internet age, data’ comes with much baggage. Laws and regulation reckoning with data are being crafted first and foremost to ensure data protection. However, much more is at stake when it comes to data: governance by data raises questions of discrimination; mass surveillance by the State is fundamentally altering democracy; data-driven’ decision making has been revealed to flatten cultural eccentricities and diversity. Moreover, while data is generally conceptualised and treated as a disembodied resource, in practice it has strongly embodied effects for our autonomy, dignity and even bodily integrity. We explore this range of issues in this section.

    • Gender and surveillance

      Surveillance is frequently understood as aiming to monitor people’s past or present behaviour. But it also intends to shape our behaviour going forward. And of both dimensions, women and sexual and gender minorities are only too aware: they have always been under stringent surveillance — by actors ranging from partners and parents to the state — and this has shaped, and harmed, their lives in multiple ways. What can a gender perspective on both these dimensions of surveillance, then, teach us about the multiple harms of surveillance? And how can this understanding in turn strengthen our efforts to fight surveillance’s multiple harms? Our work on gender and surveillance provides insight into these questions and more. 

    • Privacy and surveillance

      Privacy and data protection have been the most popular responses – in law and regulation as well as in popular understanding – to issues of surveillance and dataveillance. In this section, we investigate the substance of these frameworks, their contours and limitations as well as their usefulness.

  • Freedom of expression

    As the Internet has provided states (and corporates) with ever-growing surveillance capacities, it is crucial that this power is balanced by strong protections of the right to freedom of expression of Internet users. The balance between state powers and citizens rights has, after all, always been the hallmark of a democracy. But the Internet has also thrown up its own share of challenges for free speech — including hate speech, gendered online abuse and the use of the Internet to spread rumours of violence. When, then, is it justified for the government to intervene? When can and should the law play a role? What can be expected from Internet intermediaries, such as social networks, if anything? And what can people do to protect the right to free speech — their own and that of others?

    • Gender, free speech, censorship

      Censorship measures are frequently justified by concerns to safeguard morality or protect women. Such targeted measures to protect women may at times be required. After all, it is true that, while the Internet provides women with important new opportunities to express themselves, the medium also poses them with considerable challenges as old forms of harassment materialise in new shapes online. But where such measures end up restricting women’s free speech in ways beyond the strictly necessary and legitimate, they only become counterproductive. Ultimately, it is precisely in its potential to give women — as all of us — voice that one of the great strengths of the Internet lies. And so the question arises: do existing measures actually support women in confronting the considerable challenges they face?

    • Hate speech

      Online speech that is offensive, abusive or hateful has attracted great attention in India and elsewhere, and often leads to calls for its criminalisation. But while the right to freedom of expression is subject to reasonable restrictions both under Indian law and international law, these are fairly narrowly defined, and much of what might be considered hate speech socially is not necessarily so legally. How, then, to deal with and move forward on this difficult and sensitive issue? 

    • The impact of criminal law

      Be it online or offline, the illegitimate criminalisation of freedom of expression is one of the biggest threats to the right to freedom of expression. We analyse its impact on on freedom of expression online and the free and open Internet in general. We also look at the particular consequences criminal law in India in particular has had in this regard, examining not only Internet-specific laws, such as those regarding intermediate liability, but laws that predate the Internet as well. 

  • Cyber security and human rights

    With the advent of new technology, new security threats have emerged for people, businesses and states. Oftentimes, responses to such threats, including states’ exercise of their unprecedented power to surveil their populations, have been criticised for their negative impact on human rights. Can security and human rights no longer be reconciled in the Internet age? 

  • Net neutrality and other telecom policy

    The physical life of the internet is obscured from view. Undersea cables, airwaves, wireline networks- all these elements that rarely come to the foreground of our thoughts interact in complex ways to deliver us internet’. As much of the network is owned and managed by private entities, their interests can be divergent from the public interest. Limiting user choice or stifling innovation, for example, could be immensely profitable for these entities. It falls upon the laws and policies governing these telecommmunication networks to ensure that the internet’s ability to function as a free, open and secure medium is preserved, while also creating conditions for the telecom industry to thrive.

    • The ITU and global Internet governance

      Since late 2012, the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) has come to play an increasingly important role as a platform for and driver of global debates around appropriate models for Internet governance. While some argue the ITU’s growing role merely signals an attempt by certain governments, or by the UN, to take over the Internet, others argue that the institution has a legitimate role to play in Internet governance. The Internet Democracy Project follows and sheds light on the debate as it unfolds, from a developing country perspective. 

    • The WSIS+10 Review

      The ten year review of the implementation of WSIS outcomes might be of significance not only for efforts to annihilate the digital divide post-2015, but also for the future of global Internet governance. Less than a year before a High Level Review Meeting, the role and possibly participation of civil society in the review process remains unclear – lip service paid by governments to the gains of multistakeholderism notwithstanding.