IT for Change is one of the four ‘nodes’ in the Data Governance Network (DGN) selected for research rigour and evidence of engagement in policy domains. The DGN was established by the IDFC Institute in 2019 to bring together some of India's leading policy think-tanks: National Institute of Public Finance and Policy, Internet Democracy Project and IT for Change. It identifies policy gaps in data governance and seeks to bridge them through policy interventions, research and advocacy.
1. Advocacy at the DGN's Fifth Quarterly Roundtable
IDFC institute organized DGN's fifth quarterly roundtable on August 4 and 5, 2020. Researchers from Internet Democracy Project, IT for Change, iSPIRT, NIPFP and IDFC Institute debuted their latest work on the use of technology in government and during the Covid-19 pandemic.
IT for Change's Anushka Mittal discussed 'Exploring Constitutional Tenability of Data Sharing Policies' and Parminder Jeet Singh spoke about 'Understanding and Governing Non-Personal Data' during the internal discussion on research proposals at this roundtable.
2. Research Paper on ‘Data and Digital Intelligence Commons’
Parminder Jeet Singh published a research paper titled, ‘Data and Digital Intelligence Commons: Making a Case for Community Ownership’, questioning the ‘open access’ paradigm for data and developing a theoretical basis for asserting community ownership of data.
3. Advocacy Through the DGN’s Quarterly Roundtables
In December 2019, IT for Change organised a roundtable that included all four nodes of DGN and several external experts. At this roundtable, we unveiled our proposal for ongoing research on ‘Big Tech on a Leash: Regulating Data, Cloud and Intelligence’. This later culminated into a report that is currently undergoing publication. The report examines the limitations of retrofitting current regulatory processes in the digital economy and suggests a federated data and cloud structure as the appropriate regulatory response.
4. Advocacy and Research on the Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019
At the heels of the introduction and consultations on the Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019, IT for Change was involved in several initiatives as part of the DGN:
(i) A media piece authored by Anushka Mittal highlighted the shortcomings of the Bill with respect to assuring privacy for anonymised data.
(ii) We shared specific recommendations on a framework for protection of anonymised data, in including provisions for penalty of intentional de-anonymisation of such data, consideration of unintentional de-anonymisation as a personal data breach and allowing research exemptions for the use of such data.
(iii) Parminder Jeet Singh was a co-panelist, along with Justice (Retd.) Srikrishna, on a discussion on the Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019, organised by the Software Freedom Law Centre. The panel discussed the contours, shortcomings and scope for improvement of the Bill with respect to anonymisation, non-personal data and the conceptualisation of harm as included in the Bill.
5. Breaking Up Big Tech: Separation of its Data, Cloud and Intelligence Layers
This working paper argues that traditional competition frameworks are inadequate to addressing the rapidly building digital power concentration. These need to be combined with perspectives from technology governance that focus on structural separation of technology-functional layers (a la net neutrality, but also more) to form a composite new approach to digital regulation. The full paper is available for download here.