CIS INdia, the leading IT rights think tank in India, is proposing that India bet on world class IT privacy as a key competitive advantage for it’s IT industry. They are seeing how, the fullest protection of digital human rights can, in a post-Snowden world, can become the primary competitive advantage of the IT industry of an entire nation.
We pointed that opportunity during our event in Rome with Richard Stallman, named “Full realisation of citizen digital rights as huge economic opportunity for the Lazio Region“.
Italy could do that as well – or even before India or Brazil, or Switzerland – as we are proposing with our Open Media District project, that includes a dedicated technology park, dedicated supporting legislations and large trail blazing R&D projects, such as User Verified Social Telematics.
Here’s what CIS envisions:
Post-Snowden, the so called swing states occupy the higher moral ground. It is time for these states to capitalize on this moment using strong political will. Instead of just being a friendly jurisdiction from the perspective of access to medicine, it is time for India to also be the enabling jurisdiction for access to knowledge more broadly. We could use patent pools and compulsory licensing to provide affordable and innovative digital hardware [especially mobile phones] to the developing world. This would ensure that rights-holders, innovators, manufactures, consumers and government would all benefit from India going beyond being the pharmacy of the world to becoming the electronics store of the world. We could explore flat-fee licensing models like a broadband copyright cess or levy to ensure that users get content [text, images, video, audio, games and software] at affordable rates and rights-holders get some royalty from all Internet users in India. This will go a long way in undermining the copyright enforcement based censorship regime that has been established by the US. When it comes to privacy – we could enact a world-class privacy law and establish an independent, autonomous and proactive privacy commissioner who will keep both private and state actors on a short lease. Then we need a scientific, targeted surveillance regime that is in compliance with human rights principles. This will make India simultaneously an IP and privacy haven and thereby attract huge investment from the private sector, and also earn the goodwill of global civil society and independent media. Given that privacy is a precondition for security, this will also make India very secure from a cyber security perspective. Of course this is a fanciful pipe dream given our current circumstances but is definitely a possible future for us as a nation to pursue.