ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Reinventing the Commons

The article makes a case for the reinvention of the commons in the social sciences. The individual treatment of rights reduces the collective to a mass of persons. Instead the commons acknowledges the inviolate place of humans as part of the cosmos. The marginal and dissenting imagination must invoke the poetry of nature as it engages the current politics and economics. The commons, in its diversity, seeks wisdom through a dialogue of knowledges, moving beyond traditional “publics,” and “time.”

Where Is the Data to Study the Internet in India?

Social science researchers who want to study the internet in India using data mining and analytic techniques are challenged by constraints in access, and the availability of big data. Even when such data is available, it is often behind a paywall or organised in a manner that makes it difficult to interpret.

Internet Shutdowns: Strategy to Maintain Law and Order or Muzzle Dissent?

Internet shutdown refers to a deliberate suspension of internet services in a limited area, for a given amount of time, usually on the orders of the government. Through a close reading of various acts, government’s license contracts, rules, and judgments that have come out in the recent past, this paper aims to critically examine the legal regime around internet shutdown orders in India.

Net Neutrality in India: Sighting the Finish Line

Whatever be the policy instrument through which we adopt the principle of net neutrality, India’s de-facto position on this will emerge only as we begin to see new services and business models tested against the proposed principles.

Cyberwarfare Will Threaten Two Things We Hold Dear—Freedom and the Internet

The increasing number of cyberattacks around the world is alarming and India ranks 33rd in the world when it comes to receiving web-borne threats. The article argues for a global framework to tackle cybercrime, with a mix of formal and informal agreements between states.

Role of ‘Fintech’ in Financial Inclusion and New Business Models

The convergence of finance and technology to provide financial services by non-financial institutions, popularly known as “fintech,” has come to dominate the financial landscape. Taking stock of this development, its impact and implications for new products, processes and services, including for financial inclusion are examined. The Jan Dhan–Aadhaar–mobile phones trinity provides fertile ground for fintech to permeate to the “last mile.” Notwithstanding its manifold benefits, there is a need to exercise caution in areas such as privacy and ownership of data. In a fast-paced world of rapidly evolving technology and related financial services, regulators have new paradigms to grapple with and therefore, need to be proactive so as to not stifle the growth of this nascent sector.

Internet Governance

The recent decision of the United States government to cede its control over the internet's naming and addressing system to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, a US-based international non-profit body, is heralded as a significant step towards the globalisation of internet's core infrastructure. But with ICANN having no special jurisdictional immunity and subject to the whims of the judicial and legislative branches of the US government as well as many of its executive agencies, the decision seems more symbolic than meaningful.

Banning Child Pornography

The government needs to find a mechanism to ban child pornography, and not pornography as a whole, without appearing to be a censoring filter for content on the internet.

Information Technology Act

The Information Technology Act raises very real concerns. It demonstrates a legislature deeply sceptical of the internet, rooted in the conventions of the past, yet battling with the need for an information technology law in the present-day circumstances. This straddling of the known and the unknown has strange results. In its desperate need to bring in some security for activity on the net, it relies heavily on the executive, little realising that it can result in violation of civil rights particularly, in the light of India's infamous emergency. The absolute control it attempts to achieve over certifying authorities is worrying for the same reason. The act lacks balance.

Telecom Regulation and Consumer Welfare

Neither the telecom companies nor the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) have assisted in the participation of consumer bodies in an intelligent and effective manner in the TRAI's consultative processes. True, Indian telecom consumers now have a wider choice and prices too have tended to come down, but yet there are many areas of concern to consumers. Some of the important ones are discussed here.

Telecommunications Liberalisation

The government's reluctance in the first round of reforms to break the dominance of department of telecommunications and to overhaul the legal and regulatory regime led to endless litigation, which delayed the liberalisation process for almost a decade. The explosive growth of the Internet and wireless technologies and the threat by investors to decamp and withdraw their investment led the government to make efforts to untangle the problems. The 1999 Telecom Policy, the Internet Policy of 1998, and the recent legal and regulatory initiatives to overhaul the legal and regulatory regime are all steps in a positive direction. This article takes India's case as an example to show that a proper legal and regulatory regime at an institutional level at the outset, and a clear commitment to pro-competitive market principles at the political level, are necessary preconditions to successfully reforming the telecom sector.
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