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Tech manifestos 2019: CPI(M) on e-commerce regulation, surveillance, Aadhaar, and ‘Livable Cities’

The Communist Party of India (Marxist) is released its manifesto yesterday, the party is vocal about keeping Aadhaar out of welfare services, capping FDI in retail and calls for regulation of e-commerce. It makes a mention the need for data protection laws without going into much detail. It seeks strengthening state-owned (and debt ridden) telecom companies MTNL and BSNL. On the whole, it makes a slew of promises and statement in the interest of citizens such as against surveillance, social security for unorganized sector labourers, rural internet connectivity, and more. Some key points from their 2019 election manifesto:

1. Internet governance and regulation

  • Taking Internet governance out of US control to an appropriate international body
  • Promoting a people-centric internet which builds in social justice and free from control of global corporations
  • Promoting a global internet regime that protects the right to privacy and does not allow mass surveillance by either governments.

2. Privacy & Surveillance Issues

  • Enact data privacy laws that protect the people against appropriation/misuse of users private data for commercial use
  • Stop bulk surveillance by state agencies under Section 69 introduced earlier this year. There should be clear provisions and judicial supervision of any surveillance that violates citizens privacy.
  • Enact data privacy laws that protect the people against appropriation/misuse of users private data for commercial use.
  • Curb monopolies that use either telecom such as Jio/Airtel/Vodafone or internet service platforms such as Google, Facebook, etc.

3. Aadhaar

  • Scrapping the use of Aadhaar and biometrics for all social welfare measures.
  • Elimination of the present targeted system and establishment of a reformed and strengthened universal public distribution excluding income-tax payees without linkage with Aadhaar.
  • Twelve LPG cylinders per year to be provided at subsidized rate with no Aadhaar linkage.

4. Fake news: Steps to control the spread of fake news and act on those groups and individuals promoting fake news.

5. FDI in E-commerce

  • Prohibiting FDI in retail trade; regulating e-commerce, domestic corporate retailers through a licensing policy.
  • Ensure the FDI cap in the insurance sector of 26 per cent.

6. Cybersecurity: Protecting Indian Internet and telecommunications networks from cyber attacks and surveillance by building indigenous capability.

7. Media & its regulation

  • Prohibiting cross-media ownership to prevent monopolies; reversing the entry of FDI in the print and electronic media.
  • Setting up of a Media Council which can act as an independent regulatory authority for the media.
  • Strengthening the Prasar Bharati to make it a “genuine” public broadcasting service for TV and radio; states to have a say in the programmes aired by the public broadcasting service.

8. Telecom

  • Changing telecom policies to promote telecom penetration and connectivity in rural areas
  • Strengthening public sector telecom companies BSNL and MTNL and allocating necessary spectrum for them to upgrade their services
  • Increasing broadband penetration and universal affordable access to internet
  • using the domestic market to develop powerand telecom equipment manufacturing in the country

9. Transport

  • Withdrawing the Motor Vehicle (Amendment) Bill

10. Smart cities

  • Framing a New Urban Policy that replaces the concept of ‘Smart Cities’ with ‘Livable Cities’ guided inclusion and sustainability. The Livable Cities mission would be channelled through local elected governments following public consultations and discussions.

11. International trade: Keeping sectors like health, education, water resources, banking and financial services out of GATS; press for review of the TRIPS agreement.

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