SFLC.in participated in the Internet Freedom Festival (IFF) which was held between 6th and 10th of March, 2017 in the beautiful city of Valencia in Spain. IFF is a community organized unconference that brings together digital rights defenders – journalists, activists, technologists, policy advocates, digital safety trainers, and designers – to create an inclusive and diverse space for discussions and collaborations.
Under the theme, Internet Freedom: Present and Future, we organized a conversational session on “Analyzing the Causes and Impacts of Internet Shutdowns” with a full hall of about 80 participants. The irony of such high incidence of this issue in a country that takes pride in being the largest democracy in the world was evident in the points raised throughout the session. There was also discussion about the need for more specific studies on the economic and social impact of these shutdowns that provides regional data which can enhance the advocacy efforts in those regions.
We also showcased our Internet Shutdown Tracker project which maps the growing incidents of Internet shutdowns across India and was much appreciated, especially by activists from countries which have faced numerous such shutdowns.
We were also invited to the panel on “Data Protection Laws and its different manifestations” which was organized together by Digital Rights Foundation, Access Now and Electronic Frontier Foundation. Other panelists included Nighat Dad (DRF), Wafa BenHassine (Access Now), Mohamad Najem (SMEX). The panel was moderated by Nica Doom (EngageMedia). India’s lack of an overarching legislation that should ideally cover the gamut of data privacy and security concerns that have been surfacing of late across India. We focused particularly on the problems around Aadhaar and its weak mechanisms in ensuring privacy and protection of personal information from being misused. We also took part in the discussion on Mass Surveillance in India and held a discussion on Aadhaar’s potential as a surveillance tool by government and its law enforcement agencies.