Privacy and surveillance

Under the larger issue of Data

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.

Posts & Reports

  • ‘Best effort basis’: Is it indeed the best effort by the Government?

    The Government issued an order on 17 May 2020 that appeared to dilute the ‘mandatory’ nature of the Aarogya Setu app. According to this order issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs, employers on ‘best efforts’ are asked to ensure the downloading of the app. Additionally, District Authorities may also ‘advise’ individuals to download the app. This was a refreshing move as previously issued guidelines on the lockdown had made the app mandatory for both private and public employees as well as those in containment zones. At first sight, there seems to be a reason to celebrate. But is this the case in practice?   More

    4 days ago

  • When and where is Aarogya Setu mandatory? We’re keeping track

    The Indian Government has launched the Aarogya Setu app as a response to COVID-19. While initially termed voluntary, we noticed that soon after its launch, the app started to be pushed by various governments, non-government establishments and private bodies as mandatory, or forced on people in other ways. Our Aarogya Setu Tracker attempts to document all these cases. Access the Aarogya Setu Tracker here. To make the tracker as exhaustive as possible, we need your help! If you come across relevant news items/orders (especially those in regional languages), please forward them to or tag us on Twitter (@iNetDemocracy). After fact-checking the item, we will add it to the tracker.   More

    3 weeks ago

  • An Exclusion Tale: Aarogya Setu’s March From Optional to Mandatory

    This piece has been co-authored by Tripti Jain and Tanisha Ranjit. As Aarogya Setu is becoming mandatory in a growing number of cases, it deserves to be asked: does the app ensure welfare for all - or not at all? In this column, we try to answer that question. We look in particular at the implications that the mandates pose on people’s lives and fundamental rights, especially on marginalised sections of the community. We also highlight the other concerns with the app: the issues of efficacy, potential tool for mass surveillance and exclusionary nature of the app. This opinion piece was originally published in The Quint, on 6 May 2020.   More

    3 weeks ago

  • Statement against the mandatory imposition of Aarogya Setu app on workers

    On the 30th of April, The Internet Democracy Project along with 44 organisations and over 100 individuals endorsed the statement against the mandatory use of the Aarogya Setu mobile application by various public and private offices all over India. The Internet Freedom Foundation sent this joint representation to various Government officials including the Prime Ministers Mr Narendra Modi and Home Minister Mr. Amit Shah. Aarogya Setu app infringes the right to privacy and personal liberty, defiling India as a democratic country and we stand in solidarity with the Internet Freedom Foundation and other rights based groups and Individuals to call it out. The full text of the letter can be found on the IFF website as well as below.   More

    02 May

  • National coalition urges Government to comply with privacy principles during COVID-19

    The Internet Democracy Project has provided extensive input in the joint letter written by SFLC to the Central and State Governments to protect individual privacy during COVID-19 Pandemic. The letter highlights excessive and unsupervised collection and usage of personal data of individuals for monitoring and surveillance that can cause irreversible harms to the privacy and bodily integrity of the individuals. The letter was signed by SFLC, the Internet Democracy Project and other non-profit organisations, civil society groups, lawyers, public policy professionals, social activists’ entrepreneurs and concerned citizens to flag the issues of individual privacy in the times of COVID-19 Pandemic. The full text of the letter can be found on the SFLC website as well as below.   More

    31 March

  • 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

  • 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

    22 Mar 2019

  • Internet Democracy Project joins global coalition that urges India to withdraw proposed amendments to Intermediary Guidelines

    The Internet Democracy Project has joined a global coalition of civil society and technology experts that sent a joint letter to the Indian Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology on 15 March, asking the Government of India to withdraw the draft amendments proposed to the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines) Rules. The coalition warns that the government’s proposed amendments on intermediary liability will harm digital security and human rights, and calls on the government to withdraw the proposed amendments and start a fresh consultation process. A press release can be found here. The full text of the letter can be found below.   More

    16 Mar 2019

  • Draft amendments to Intermediary Guidelines Rules raise serious concern for freedom of expression and privacy

    At the end of December 2018, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) of the Government of India invited stakeholders to provide their comments and suggestions on the Draft Intermediaries Guidelines (Amendment) Rules, 2018 by 31 January 2019. The Draft Rules seek to amend existing guidelines that lay out the conditions online intermediaries need to fulfil in order to qualify for safe-harbour protection. Unfortunately, many of the proposed amendments pose severe risks for freedom of expression and privacy on the Internet in India. The Internet Democracy Project has joined a coalition of organisations and concerned citizens in India in submitting a joint letter to MeitY that draws attention to these concerns. You can find the full text of the letter below.   More

    31 Jan 2019

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