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Parliamentary Standing Committee on IT to look into issues of Digital Privacy, Startup Challenges, e-Fraud, Net Neutrality, NOFN

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Among the topics identified by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology, for 2015-16, are Digital Privacy, Challenges faced by Startups, challenges related to Internet and e-fraud, Net Neutrality, among others, especially the rollout of the NOFN. The complete list below. Some things to bear in mind about these issues:

1. Privacy is taking center-stage in policy issues in India, especially after the Government of India said in the Supreme Court that there is no fundamental right to Privacy. The country doesn’t have a privacy law, and is setting up surveillance systems like the Centralized Monitoring System, NETRA, NATGRID (for collecting data from across databases), and linking citizens and databases across the unique identity number in Aadhaar.

2. Challenges faced by Startups: has been a growing area of concern, given that the country still doesn’t have an effective bankruptcy law, applies capital gains tax to risky angel investments, and the regulatory moves typically make it difficult for startups to do business.

3. Challenges related to Internet and e-fraud: it’s not clear what specifically this refers to, but there are both security issues related to phishing, but from an e-commerce perspective, there are significant challenges faced by online intermediaries, which act as the networks connecting buyers and sellers.

4. Net Neutrality: the standing committee hasn’t yet released a report on Net Neutrality, but has conducted extensive consultations on the issue (our comprehensive coverage here), with telecom operators like Airtel, Idea Cellular and Vodafone; Internet companies such as Facebook, Cleartrip, Flipkart, Microsoft, and civil society organizations such as SFLC.in, CIS India. Note that MediaNama also deposed before the Parliamentary Standing Committee in favor of Net Neutrality. Google had been invited, but chose not to depose.

Topics being considered by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on IT (via PRS Legislative):

Information and broadcasting
1. Review of functioning of Prasar Bharati Organization
2. Progress of Cable TV Digitization and its impact
3. Activities and Schemes under the Films Sector
4. Progress of Information and Broadcasting Services in North East
5. Norms and Guidelines for Media Coverage

Department of Electronics and Information Technology
1. Digital India Programme
2. Digital/Online Privacy: Problems and Challenges
3. Expansion of Rural BPOs and Challenges faced by them
4. Challenges relating to internet and e-fraud and measures to counter them
5. Promotion of Electronics/IT Hardware Manufacturing Sector
6. Start-up Companies in the IT Sector – Problems and Challenges

Department of Posts
1. Real Estate Management in the Department of Posts
2. Setting up of Post Bank of India as a payments bank – scope, objectives and framework

Department of Telecommunications
1. Net Neutrality
2. Progress of implementation of National Optical Fiber Network (NOFN)
3. Issues related to quality of services and reported Call Drops

Image Credit: Flickr user Mike Smutts

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