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The Future of Internet policy in India – 2019

India's new government was sworn in yesterday. The question we've been asked several times over the past few weeks is: what will this government do when it comes to Internet policy? The feeling of uncertainty around Internet policy is not unwarranted, especially given frenetic activity in the space since the beginning of 2018, where many new policy consultations were begun, and at times, orders were sprung upon businesses unexpectedly. Here are the themes or trends, based on what has happened over the past couple of years, that I feel are going to define Internet policy in India going forward: 1. A "Rights, but" approach to policy making ...as opposed to a "Rights first" approach to policy making. Human rights, and indeed, fundamental rights, are an inconvenient obstacle for the government, and policymaking will give primacy to growth and security objectives over rights. The whitepaper on data protection, at a time when privacy was a significant concern, seemed to highlight the importance of data for economic growth and AI development, trying to find a balance between privacy and economic imperatives; the data protection bill that followed avoided limiting mass surveillance, while largely excluding the government from restrictive provisions of the bill. So, it became common to hear: "privacy is important, but what about economic growth and national security?" While looking to amend the IT Rules for online platform safe harbor, the line we heard often from the bureaucracy that they don't want to remove encryption or harm privacy, but they need…

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Written By

Founder @ MediaNama. TED Fellow. Asia21 Fellow @ Asia Society. Co-founder SaveTheInternet.in and Internet Freedom Foundation. Advisory board @ CyberBRICS

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