Internet Shutdowns: Diverse risks, challenges, and needs at IGF 2022

Members of TBP participated in IGF 2022 hosted in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The IGF was held from 28th Nov to 2nd Dec 2022.

Chinmayi  S K was a session organizer and a speaker along with Laura Schwartz-Henderson from Internews, The session also had Diagne El Hadji Daouda and
Miraj Chowdhury as other speakers.

https://www.intgovforum.org/en/content/igf-2022-ws-482-internet-shutdowns-diverse-risks-challenges-and-needs

The session was hosted both in person and online and has a discussion on the needs assessment work undertaken as part of the Prepare, Prevent, Resist: The OPTIMA Internet Shutdowns Resource Library. Chinmayi S K presented the india assessment report and spoke about the various impacts of internet shutdowns urging government to think of necessity and proportionality while implementing shutdowns.

An event report on this session as compiled by Bojana Kovac of digwatch  can be found here : https://dig.watch/event/igf2022/internet-shutdowns-diverse-risks-challenges-and-needs

Digital Rights in Northeast India – Cyber Democracy Season 3

 

In 2021-22, we co-produced the cyber democracy season 3 with Suno India and Makepeace Sitlhou, looking at digital rights in the north east of India under . The season containing four podcasts was released in early 2022.

 

The podcast series had speakers such as Veteran Journalist Patricia Mukhim, Journalist Kishorchandra Wangkhem, Activist Nonibala Narengbam, Educationist Kopele Mero,National security expert Bibhu Prasad Routray, Investigative journalist Paojel Chaoba, Political activist Angellica Aribram and Social activist Angela Rangad. In this introductory series we looked at the issues of Surveillance, Internet Shutdowns, Online Harassment and Censorship in the context of the North East.
Each episode speaks about the issues that are based on experiences of the speakers and attempts to showcase the realities on ground.

Ep 1 Criminalising thoughts on Facebook
In this episode we look at the complexities of using social media platforms for information sharing and dissent in the North East. We look at freedom of expressions and its tradeoffs from this lens.

Ep2 Coming home to barbs and brickbats
In this episode we look at the experiences of online attacks and harassment faced people of the North East India as a result of being unapologetically themselves and asserting their identities.

Ep3 Internet shutdowns in “digital” Northeast India
In this episode we look at the issues of internet access and internet shutdowns and how it creates inequalities.

Ep4 Pegasus and us – Nothing New for Indias Northeast
In this episode we look at new age surveillance and what does it mean to Indias Northeast

The podcasts are released under CC-BY-SA 4.0 . For usage of these podcasts please write to theteam@thebachchaoproject.org

“The Gendered Impact of Intentional Internet Shutdowns”: Panel at the Global Digital Development Forum 2021

Rohini Lakshané‎ moderated a session entitled “The gendered impact of intentional Internet shutdowns” at the Global Digital Development Forum (GDDF) on 5 May 2021. The speakers were Felicia Anthonio (Access Now), Sandra Aceng (Women of Uganda Network), Deborah Brown (Human Rights Watch) and Zaituni Njovu (Zaina Foundation).

Description: Women, gender-diverse persons, and marginalised sections of society have been using the internet to overcome the obstacles posed by an imbalance of power and social restrictions. Internet shutdowns, a tool increasingly used by governments across the world, are depriving these populations of access to the ways in which the internet acts as a leveller. Our panelists represent researchers, advocacy, and policy groups exploring the impact of intentional internet shutdowns on women and gender-diverse persons in communities across Africa. They will speak from the perspectives of free and fair elections, cybersecurity, freedom of speech, and expression and digital rights, and discuss coping strategies these populations use when they are digitally disconnected.

Click here for the GDDF 2021 agenda.

A recording of the session is available at: https://digitaldevforum.course.tc/t/2021/events/the-gendered-impact-of-intentional-internet-shutdowns-edXz4h26pBmDUJokkFGRXN

Roundtable on Internet Shutdowns, Technology and Society Series, 11 November 2020

Rohini Lakshané was one of the speakers at the Roundtable on Internet Shutdowns organised by the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore (IIM-B) and Software Freedom Law Centre (SFLC) on November 11, 2020. The roundtable was a part of Technology and Society Series hosted by SFLC and the Centre for Software & Information Technology Management at IIM-B. Details of the event: https://www.iimb.ac.in/index.php/iimb-csitm-host-internet-shutdowns

The other speakers at the roundtable were Prof. Rajeev Gowda, former Member of Parliament and former faculty, IIM Bangalore; Anuradha Bhasin, Editor, Kashmir Times; and Prasanth Sugathan, Legal Director, SFLC. Prof. Neena Pandey, faculty, IIM Visakhapatnam moderated the session.

“Anatomy of Internet shutdowns”: Panel discussion at Nullcon 2020

Prateek Waghre, Research Analyst, The Takshashila Institution was a speaker in a panel discussion at Nullcon on March 8, 2020 about a study carried out jointly with Rohini Lakshané of The Bachchao Project. In the discussion entitled “Anatomy of Internet Shutdowns”, Waghre spoke about the study on usability testing of the whitelist issued for Internet access in Jammu and Kashmir.

Details about the study may be accessed here: http://thebachchaoproject.org/even-the-301-whitelisted-sites-in-jammu-and-kashmir-are-not-entirely-accessible-an-analysis

Details about the session here: https://nullcon.net/website/media-track.php. Nullcon is an annual conference held in India on the topic of cybersecurity.

Submission to MHA regarding whitelist for Internet access in Jammu and Kashmir

The Bachchao Project and The Takshashila Institution made a joint submission to India’s Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) based on our findings of a usability testing exercise conducted on the whitelist issued for Internet access in Jammu and Kashmir in January 2020. A copy of the submission has been uploaded here along with a summary of the questions raised by our findings.

The findings are available on Zenodo: https://zenodo.org/record/3635885


To,
Shri Ajay Kumar Bhalla,
Home Secretary,
Ministry of Home Affairs,
Dated: February 19, 2020

Dear Sir,

Subject: Jammu and Kashmir Internet Whitelist

This communication is with reference to orders issued by the Home Department, Government of Jammu and Kashmir (dated January 14, 18, 24 and 31) regarding the Temporary Suspension of Telecom Services and enforcement of a whitelist of websites available for internet access in Jammu and Kashmir.

We have conducted a usability analysis of the 329 entries in the whitelist with the following results.

  • 20% of the entries were practically usable.
  • 23% of the entries were partially usable.
  • 47% of the entries were not usable in any meaningful way.
  • 10% of the entries could not be analysed as the information provided was inadequate/ incorrect.

The analysis demonstrated that this whitelisting approach is not technically feasible, especially for a large population, nor is it practically workable. It also simultaneously raised questions about the whitelisting exercise as a whole, which need to be urgently addressed by the Ministry of Home Affairs.

  1. What were the process and criteria applied to select these specific URLs/ services/ websites to be on the whitelist?
  2. What were the process and criteria applied to reject some services provided by the government from the whitelist?
  3. What were the process and criteria, if any, to reject websites and services that are similar to those whitelisted and those that provide the same or comparable services?
  4. How were the residents of Jammu and Kashmir informed about this whitelist, that these specific services/ websites had become accessible?
  5. Were recommendations sought from the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) with regard to the violation of Net Neutrality? If so, what recommendations did TRAI put forward?
  6. What were the criteria for blocking VPN services?
  7. What, if any, technical testing was conducted to ensure smooth operation of the whitelisted websites?
  8. What, if any, was the review process put in place for the list?
  9. In view of all the above questions, how will the authorised government officers “ensure implementation of these directions in letter and spirit,” as stated in paragraph 7 of the order dated January 14?

We have enclosed a document containing the following information for your perusal.

  • Executive summary
  • Background note
  • Summary of results
  • Questions with supporting information

The document also includes three addenda (in case further details are required).

  • Addendum 1: Detailed write-up about the method of testing, its limitations, our observations based on our findings, and questions and comments about the role of ISPs in implementing the whitelist.
  • Addendum 2: The test results and observations for each of the 301 entries in the whitelist contained in the order dated 24 January.
  • Addendum 3: The test results and observations for new entries made to the whitelist specified by the order dated January 31. The new entries had to be analysed separately since this order removed the ‘Field’ column resulting in a change in categorisation of the entries.

We seek your response(s) to the 9 questions listed in the submission.

Copies to:

  1. Shri Amit Shah, Minister for Home Affairs
  2. Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad, Minister for Communications, Minister for Electronics and Information Technology
  3. Shri Anshu Prakash, Secretary to the Department of Telecommunications
  4. Shri Ajay Sawhney, Secretary to the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology
  5. Shri Shaleen Kabra, Principal Secretary to the Government, Home Department, Government of Jammu and Kashmir
  6. Shri R. S. Sharma, Chairman, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI)
  7. Shri Sanjay Dhotre, Union Minister of State for Communication, and for Electronics and IT


Prateek Waghre
Research Analyst,
The Takshashila Institution

Rohini Lakshané
Director, Emerging Research,
The Bachchao Project

Questions about whitelist for Internet access in Jammu and Kashmir

[Podcast] All Things Policy: The Dark Side Of The Kashmir Whitelist

Rohini Lakshané (of The Bachchao Project) and Prateek Waghre (of The Takshashila Institution) spoke with Anirudh Kanisetti on this podcast about their analysis of the 301 entries whitelisted for Internet access in Jammu and Kashmir in January 2020. This episode is a part of the All Things Policy series of The Takshashila Institution. The detailed analysis and test results were published on Medianama — Even the 301 whitelisted sites in Jammu and Kashmir are not entirely accessible: An analysis.

Podcast URL: https://ivmpodcasts.com/all-things-policy-episode-list/2020/1/29/ep-250-the-dark-side-of-the-kashmir-whitelist

Even the 301 whitelisted sites in Jammu and Kashmir are not entirely accessible: An analysis

The article “Even the 301 whitelisted sites in Jammu and Kashmir are not entirely accessible: An analysis” written by Rohini Lakshané (The Bachchao Project) and Prateek Waghre (The Takshashila Institution) was published on Medianama on January 28, 2020.

https://www.medianama.com/2020/01/223-analysis-of-whitelisted-urls-in-jammu-and-kashmir-how-usable-are-they

Archive URL: https://web.archive.org/web/20200128191547/https://www.medianama.com/2020/01/223-analysis-of-whitelisted-urls-in-jammu-and-kashmir-how-usable-are-they

Excerpt

The Supreme Court made a judgement on January 10, 2020 directing the Central government to review the total suspension of Internet services in Jammu and Kashmir imposed since August 5, 2019 and to restore essential services. In response, the government of Jammu and Kashmir issued a whitelist comprising 153 entries on January 18, and increased the number of entries to 301 on January 24. What would the experience of an ordinary resident of Jammu and Kashmir be like under the whitelist arrangement? We conducted a preliminary analysis to empirically determine whether the 301 whitelisted websites and services would be practically usable and found that only 126 were usable to some degree. Before we delve further into the questions the list raises, the role of ISPs, and analyse the list itself, it is pertinent to understand the background and context in which an ordinary resident of Jammu and Kashmir may access the Internet…

Tweet thread: Preliminary analysis of second whitelist for Internet access in Jammu and Kashmir

Dataset: https://zenodo.org/record/3629633

In continuation of the tweet thread from: Preliminary analysis of first whitelist for Internet access in Jammu and Kashmir

Detailed analysis published on Medianama — Even the 301 whitelisted sites in Jammu and Kashmir are not entirely accessible: An analysis, January 28, 2020

Tweet thread

Tweet thread: Preliminary analysis of first whitelist for Internet access in Jammu and Kashmir

Rohini Lakshané (The Bachchao Project) and Prateek Waghre (The Takshashila Institution) conducted a preliminary analysis of whitelist comprising 153 entries issued by the Home Department, Government of Jammu and Kashmir on 18 January 2020, to empirically determine whether the whitelisted websites and services would be practically usable for an ordinary resident. The Twitter thread published here shines a light on the method of testing and the signficant findings. A detailed write-up will be published soon. The dataset comprising test results is licensed and can be accessed here: https://zenodo.org/record/3627665