Gender and surveillance

Under the larger issue of Data

Surveillance is frequently understood as aiming to monitor people’s behaviour: to see what they are doing now or have done in the past. But there is a second dimension to surveillance: it also shapes our behaviour going forward. What can a gender perspective on both these dimensions of surveillance teach us about the multiple harms of surveillance? And how can this understanding in turn deepen our efforts to fight surveillance’s multiple harms?   Read More

While the surveillance powers of the Indian government and its agencies are continuously expanding and companies, too, grab more and more of our data, most people still seem to think that this is not something that affects them. If you have not done anything wrong, you have nothing to hide, right?

Not quite. And women would know. Although the digital age may have further deepened the scrutiny to which women are subject, women have always been under stringent surveillance - by actors ranging from partners and parents to the state. And this has shaped, and harmed, women’s lives in multiple ways.

What can be learned about surveillance from gendering it, then? And what do these insights imply for the fight for stronger human rights protections in the face of surveillance more broadly?

With our work on gender and surveillance, we hope to make more concrete the multifaceted ways in which widespread surveillance shapes, and harms, our lives.

Posts & Reports

  • 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

    13 September

  • Call for papers: ‘Imagine a Feminist Internet: Research, Practice and Policy in South Asia’

    What opportunities does technology provide to question and, ultimately, start changing gender norms? In February 2019, Point of View and the Internet Democracy Project are organising ‘Imagine a Feminist Internet: South Asia’: a two-day regional conference bringing together researchers, practitioners and policymakers from across South Asia for critical conversations that seek to answer precisely that question. We invite papers from both young scholars and established researchers from South Asia to contribute to this conference and inspire the debates.   More

    19 Nov 2018

  • 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.

    Report 18 Oct 2018

  • Is the fourth way going far enough? Our submission to MEITy on draft Personal Data Protection Bill 2018

    The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology invited public comments to the draft Personal Data Protection Bill and accompanying report. The report claims that the proposed framework is a fourth way (others being the European Union model, the United States model and the Chinese model) that is tailored to suit India and other developing countries. The Internet Democracy Project made a submission, with general comments as well as some specific suggestions.

    Report 12 Oct 2018

  • Dots and connections - Internet explained through rangoli

    Remember we had begun to use rangoli as a way to explain networking concepts? We have turned that exercise into a video now! Well, some parts of it - watch it here. With the support of Greenhost and the Totem Project, we made an explainer video that goes into what ‘internet’ means, how information travels …   More

    25 Aug 2018

  • India’s data protection draft ignores key next-generation rights

    (This article was first published in Asia Times. You can find the link to the original article here.) In the last week of July, two events happened in rapid succession: the release of India’s much-awaited draft data-protection legislation, and a breaking news story that Watson, IBM’s computing system that helps physicians recommend individualized cancer treatments, …   More

    21 Aug 2018

  • Here are the consequences of linking women’s medical records to their Aadhaar

    Aadhaar has been pitted as the snake oil of choice for various problems in society, including that of gender biased sex selection. In two proposals, one by Maneka Gandhi and another by two doctors, the tracking of women’s pregnancies is advocated as the means to monitor and curb the practice of gender-biased sex selection. But both these proposals seek to normalise surveillance of the bodies, decisions and data of women and girls, under the garb of ensuring their welfare. Ramya Chandrasekhar traces the various harmful consequences of using surveillance as the instrument of choice to eliminate the practice of gender biased sex selection, in a piece first published in the Indian Express.   More

    25 Apr 2018

  • Playing the Aadhaar card

    Will the final Aadhaar hearings that started this week, on 17 Janiuary, bring some relief where the privacy concerns of India’s people are concerned? Will our future world be one in which citizens’ autonomy, decision-making capacity and bodily integrity are further fostered or will we be saddled with architectures and ecosystems that fundamentally and continuously undermine these? Taking gender and the body as starting point, Dr. Anja Kovacs explains what is at stake in the Supreme Court case on Aadhaar and why there is no reason to be too hopeful yet, in this article first published in India Today.   More

    12 Jan 2018

  • Rangoli as a way to explore networks

    “Break it down.” “Lose the jargon.” “No, you may not borrow any more salt and pepper shakers and move them around!” Sound familiar? As digital rights advocates and activists, there are many occasions where we discuss networks — how the internet works, who are the entities involved in the delivery of a message, what’s the problem with …   More

    30 Nov 2017

  • Why the Supreme Court’s right to privacy judgement matters so much to marginalised people in India

    On 24 August, the Supreme Court of India ruled that, contrary to what the government had argued, Indians do have a fundamental right to privacy. For women, sexual minorities and other marginalised people in India, this judgement has potentially far-reaching consequences. This is especially because the Supreme Court has noted repeatedly that the right to privacy doesn’t only include the right to be left alone, but also to decision-making about personal life and to control information about oneself. Read on to find out more about our views on this important ruling. This post was first published in the Hindustan Times, on 30 August.   More

    31 Aug 2017

  • The Internet Democracy Project’s recently released work on gender and surveillance in India was featured in this week’s episode of the NDTV documentary program ‘India Matters’, which looked at online websites with feminist content. From Pinjra Tod and Agents of Ishq - an online multimedia project on love, sex and desire - to stories of women scientists who are pushing boundaries to produce important works on the field of science, these feminist sites act not just as influencers but also as agents of change.   More

    24 Mar 2017

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