Over the three month period stretching from June to September 2020, technology policy in India saw multiple upheavals. TikTok and PUBG and over 200 other apps of Chinese origin were banned. Paytm and Paytm First Games were thrown off the Google Play Store (though Paytm returned shortly). Facebook India was accused of allegedly shielding BJP politicians and other right-wing figures from its content moderation policy.

In a new report — Technology Policy Review, India — we have compiled key developments in the Indian Internet ecosystem between July and September (Q3, 2020).

Many of these developments are turning points. For instance, Google’s 30% cut, along with its removal of Paytm from the app store, triggered anger in the Indian start-up ecosystem. Founders and leaders huddled with one another and sprung into action: meeting the IT Ministry, meeting the competition regulator, calling for an alternative app store. Since, then the Competition Commission of India has begun an investigation into how google operates the play store. Similarly, the ban on Chinese apps has led to a clarion call for self reliance among Indian startups, and renewed focus on technology nationalism.

This report will give you an overview of:

  1. Key developments between July-September (Q3 2020) in India’s technology and internet ecosystem
  2. Government decisions that will impact the Internet in India, around digital news, gig economy, and facial recognition, etc
  3. The factors influencing India’s decisions and responses, such as Indo-China relations, the COVID19 pandemic and need for digital health systems, demands for regulation of the streaming industry

I’ll leave you with an excerpt highlighting the shocking expansion of facial recognition systems in Telangana:

In recent months, [facial recognition has been] expanded to college admissions and road transport services, with plans to deploy it to distribute ration in the state and authenticate voters for elections to Hyderabad’s local government body – all of this without a law. This tech is part of the larger Samagra Vedika program, a collection of departmental databases with a “360 degree” view of citizens, which has been in the works since 2016. In a lengthy interview, Telangana’s top IT official Jayesh Ranjan downplayed the importance of seeking citizen consent, saying that it is implicit in government function.

This is our first attempt at creating such a report. Please do share your feedback on how we can make it more useful for you. Please feel free to share this report with others.

Download the report here: Technology Policy Review, India | July – September 2020