Hi there! Here is your monthly cheat sheet to the latest developments in tech-law and policy from India and around the world!
The department of space released the draft space communication policy for comments. Under the policy, the government will adopt measures to authorise and monitor satellite communication to or from India, encourage participation of private players to provide satellite communication, and provide a responsive regulatory environment for the space-based communication industry, among other things. It also sets out norms and guidelines for implementing the policy.
In other news, the U.S. secretary of defence Mark Esper and Indian home minister Rajnath Singh signed the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement during the third edition of 2+2 India-U.S. ministerial dialogue. This agreement will allow the two countries to exchange geospatial data and enhance accuracy of automated systems, missiles and armed drones. It is also last of the three agreements signed between India and the U.S. to strengthen defence ties. Prior to this, the two countries signed the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (2016) and the Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (2018) to boost military collaboration.
Meanwhile, India, along with the U.S., Japan, Australia, UK, Canada, and New Zealand called for backdoors to end-to-end encryption for public safety and law enforcement purposes. The countries, acknowledged the role of encryption in enhancing data privacy, but said that it precluded timely and legal access to child sexual exploitation and abuse material, terrorist propaganda and violent crime content on digital platforms. Soon after, the Global Encryption Coalition (a collective of civil society organisations) argued that the move was incompatible with the technical reality of encryption, and indicated that there was a risk of backdoors being accessed by bad actors. Also, Lt. Gen. (Retd.) Rajesh Pant, national cyber security coordinator, reiterated that the national cyber security policy was in the final stages of approval. The strategy is expected to cover a wide range of issues including indigenisation of technologies, cyber insurance, cyber education, cryptology, funding cybersecurity work, among other things.
Lastly, the government sought feedback from select industry associations and law firms on the need to amend the Copyright Act, 1957. The amendments are expected to have significant consequences for issues like online piracy, statutory licensing, digital rights management, and others.
In a bid to improve access to non-personal securities market data, the Securities Exchange Board of India set up a standing committee on data christened the market data advisory committee. This committee will recommend a policy to facilitate sharing of non-private financial data, which the securities regulator believes is a public good and can help facilitate research, decision making and innovation. The committee will be responsible for suggesting ways to standardize data definitions and recommending regulations to ensure the enforcement of data-related policies, among other things.
To encourage AI based startups and maximise the use of tech in India, the ministry of electronics and information technology is reportedly working on a proposal to set up a national mission for AI. The INR 2000 crores project will include setting up a centre of excellence for AI, and other benefits for AI startups, in collaboration with the private sector, academia, and think tanks.
Also, at the Responsible AI for Social Empowerment summit 2020 (or RAISE 2020), prime minister Narendra Modi indicated that he wanted India to become a global hub for AI and capitalize its use in agriculture, infrastructure, and disaster management systems.
Digital media, online content, and intermediary liability
Urging the government to set up a board for monitoring content on streaming platforms, which allegedly streamed anti-Indian and inappropriate content, a PIL was filed in the Supreme Court of India. Meanwhile, Prakash Javadekar, the IB minister reiterated that the government believed in self-regulation of all content, but OTT players had not come up with a credible self-regulation proposal yet. Shiv Sena’s Rajya Sabha MP Priyanka Chaturvedi wrote to the IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad questioning the legal framework governing social media companies, which absolves them from any responsibility in relation to the content posted on their platforms. She argued that the law failed to account for damaging effects of algorithms deployed by these companies to increase viewership.
Also, the U.S. Senate’s commerce committee summoned the CEOs of Google, Twitter and Facebook to discuss their content moderation policies and the protection afforded to internet intermediaries for third party content under section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, 1996. Mark Zuckerberg indicated that while the government had the powers to decide what content was acceptable, without the safe harbor protections ‘platforms would likely censor more content to avoid legal risk’. On the other hand, Twitter’s CEO Jack Dorsey said that restricting the scope of section 230 would stifle startup innovation and further the dominance of big tech companies.
The department for promotion of industry and internal trade clarified that FDI in digital media through government route will not exceed 26%. This comes after the government in August 2019 issued a press release announcing the FDI limit of 26% without clarifying what digital media constituted. Per the latest announcement, digital media will include news aggregators, entities streaming news digitally, and news agencies gathering and distributing news to digital media entities.
The Reserve Bank of India released its final framework for recognising a self-regulatory organization for payment system operators. The SRO will make rules and enforcement procedures for myriad payment players which include banking, non-banking, and tech entities. It will also create a uniform grievance redressal framework to resolve disputes which arise between members, and will report any violation of the Payments and Settlement Systems Act 2007 to the RBI, amongst other things.
The Tata Group initiated talks with the RBI to procure a new umbrella entity license. Under the RBI’s umbrella entity framework, a company will be able to own and operate a pan-India retail payments network in ways similar to how National Payments Council of India operates its Unified Payment Interface. SBI is also teaming up with the Bank of Baroda and HDFC Bank to apply for this license. News reports suggest that the RBI will not issue more than two umbrella entity licences.
The RBI also released its directions for streamlining QR code infrastructure in India. All payment system operators using proprietary QR codes will have to move to recognised interoperable codes – UPI and Bharat QR codes – by 31 March 2022. This comes after the RBI constituted a committee in December 2019 to review the QR code infrastructure in India and suggest measures for moving towards interoperable codes. The committee had recommended providing incentives to popularise usage of QR code transactions among consumers and made a case for phasing out closed loop codes in favour of open standards.
New at Ikigai
We continued to explore developments on drones! The draft Unmanned Aircraft System Rules, 2020 envisage the establishment of an Unmanned Aircraft Traffic Management system in Indian airspace. Our team, along with Rakesh Vohra (from Unifly), offered suggestions on how to design UTM systems in a safe and efficient manner.
Together with Arushi Goel (a former civil judge), we submitted comments on the draft electronic transactions regulations released by the Abu Dhabi Global Market, which recognize the use of electronic signatures, contracts and records.
In other work, Sreenidhi explored the impact of the draft personal data protection bill on payments businesses, Aditya, Aman and Aparajita examined the regulatory journey of e-wallets and its value proposition for businesses, and our team provided suggestions to limit space liability for Indian startups in the absence of a space policy that governs such liability.
Hope to see you in December!