Hello, and welcome to our Tech Ticker, with law and policy developments from India and around the world.
The MeitY banned 59 Chinese apps under section 69A of the IT Act, 2000, in the interest of Indian sovereignty and integrity, defence, security of state and public order. This comes hot at the heels of the Indo-Chinese border stand-off (watch Anirudh give a round-up of the ban, read Aman’s and Anirudh’s analysis for the Economic Times, and Nehaa’s views to TechNode, here). In response, the Chinese government brought up the Indian government’s responsibility to safeguard the interests of foreign investors, including Chinese investors; while some domestic entrepreneurs hailed this as a win for the Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan, and a shot in the arm for Indian privacy.
The government e-marketplace or GeM, possibly informed by the Indo-Chinese friction, mandated sellers to indicate the country of origin of their products on the portal. Reportedly, the ministry of commerce also asked e-commerce platforms to follow suit. Meanwhile, the Public Procurement (Preference to Make in India) Order, 2017 was amended to disallow global tenders up to INR 200 crore (as FM Nirmala Sitharaman had promised).
Meanwhile, India joined the Global Partnership on Artificial Intelligence as a founding member to support responsible use of AI (read our piece on policy development in the world of AI, here and follow this for more).
Online content and intermediary liability
Bihar CM Nitish Kumar, urged the government to regulate ‘inappropriate content’ over streaming services by making suitable amendments to the Cinematograph Act, 1952. Meanwhile, the Central Board of Film Certification entered the online content regulation debate with its chairman Prasoon Joshi calling out content creators on OTT platforms for showcasing ‘irresponsible content’ and failing to understand their right to freedom of expression. Also, the High Courts of Punjab and Haryana, and Madhya Pradesh are hearing petitions on the censorship of OTT content. Read our pieces on how courts have previously entertained petitions to regulate online content in India, here and how other countries in the world regulate content, here. Separately, the Broadcast Engineering Consultants India Limited, a body under the ministry of broadcasting floated a tender to empanel agencies to verify facts and detect disinformation on social media platforms.
The government suspended the Aarogya Setu Mitr portal in response to a petition filed alleging the use of the portal for promoting private e-pharmacies. The Internet and Mobile Association of India, has urged the government to finalise the draft e-pharmacy rules to harmonise them with the IT Act, 2000, the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940, and to clarify the position of online sale of medicines over e-pharma platforms. Reportedly, Apple and Google have approached the Indian government to integrate their contact tracing API in the Aarogya Setu app.
News reports indicate that the revised draft of the e-commerce policy may be released soon, and confirm earlier reports of a separate regulator with wide powers to seek information and impose penalties on e-commerce entities. The policy is also expected to propose categories of e-commerce data that can be stored or mirrored outside India, and those that cannot. E-commerce companies may be required to display the country of origin of products sold on their platform and value of content added in India on their platforms. We may also see a wider definition of e-commerce which includes all B2B, B2C, consumer-facing content platforms, IoT device-based services, app-based e-commerce platforms, etc. There are also indications that the government will have free and unfettered access to commercially viable e-commerce data for the purposes of security, law and order, taxation, among other things.
The Financial Stability and Development Council, under the ministry of finance, may set up an Inter Regulatory Technical Group on FinTech to promote inter-regulatory coordination to support hybrid financial products with multiple regulatory requirements. To improve digital and physical payment infrastructure in the north-eastern states and tier-3 to tier-6 centres, the RBI announced the creation of a Payment Infrastructure and Development Fund worth INR 500 crores, while the Securities Exchange Board of India rolled out its framework for a regulatory sandbox to promote innovation in financial technologies. Meanwhile, in line with Indian government’s push to store all financial data locally, the National Payment Corporation of India will build its own smart data centre in Chennai as per international standards. And, the RBI clarified that G-Pay was as a Third Party App Provider and not a payment system.
New at Ikigai
The moratorium on electronic transmissions at the World Trade Organisation expired in June 2020, with little clarity on what happens next. In the past month, we traced historical developments and critical issues in e-commerce related discourse at the WTO, and analysed the global north-south divide towards e-commerce. We analysed the recent decision of the WTO Appellate Body in Australia’s Tobacco Plain Packaging matter, including its implications on India’s objective to adopt plain packaging for its tobacco products.
We continued to study international data governance frameworks, starting with data localization in international trade law. Read our findings from the APAC region, about Indonesia, Malaysia and other APAC countries. We assessed if ‘regional interoperability’ can be a solution to cross border data flow restrictions in South Asia, and Vijayant and Saumya compared the Sri Lankan PDP Bill 2019 with the GDPR. See earlier pieces on data protection in Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh here and here. From the African continent, we unpacked the data protection framework in Kenya and South Africa, and studied internet shutdowns.
We kept up with exciting developments on drones! Anirudh spoke at panel organised by the Drones Federation of India on the new Unmanned Aircraft System Rules, 2020 which will enable Beyond Visual Line of Sight drone operations in India. Our team also gave suggestions on BVLOS operations based on the global regulatory framework to transition to a drone-friendly regulatory environment in India, and crafted a comparison of the draft UAS Rules, 2020 with the existing civil aviation requirements on Remotely Piloted Aircrafts Systems, 2018.
Exploring the intersection between law, sports and data, our team authored a step by step guide on the regulatory requirements for transfer of football players between clubs, explored the major provisions of the National Sports Development Code applicable to sports governing bodies, and the legal basis for sports data processing under the PDP Bill 2019.
In other work, Sayanhya discussed the nuances of lease negotiation for a commercial office space and the steps for opening a pub in India, Ratul penned this primer on Central Bank Digital Currency, their importance and need, while Kanupriya analysed India’s extant cyber security framework and suggested some improvements to the same. Continuing with our effort to make the law more accessible, our design team created an innovative and easy to consume pictorial template of contracts. Give it a look and let us know what you think!
Hope to see you again in August!