Defender of your Digital Freedom

All Posts | Jan 03,2018

SFLC.in at Swatantra ’17

Dates: 20 and 21 December 2017
Venue: Mascot Hotel, Trivandrum, Kerala, India
People in attendance: ~400

Panel Discussion

SFLC.in was a part of the closing session titled “Software Freedom – Challenges Ahead”. Panelists included:

  1. Prasanth Sugathan, Legal Director, SFLC.in
  2. Praveen Arimbrathodiyil, Pirate Party of India
  3. Benjamin Maco Hill, Assistant Professor in Communication, University of Washington
  4. Abhas Abhinav, Founder, DeepRoot Linux
  5. Juan Carlos Gentile, Founder & President , Hipatia.

The panel was moderated by Arun M, Programme Head, ICFOSS.

Prasanth Sugathan mentioned that the free software community forms the basis of the entire Internet freedom movement. He spoke about the need to have an ability to tinker with our devices and the effects of losing such a freedom. He mentioned that recent times have seen a gradual shift from the use of copyleft licences to permissive licences - including the harmful effect that this has on the free software movement, and the adoption of proprietary solutions by the government despite a national policy on preferring open source solutions. He also announced SFLC.in's upcoming Women In Tech project to ensure increased participation of women in technology-related fields.

SFLC.in’s Booth

Approximately 250 people visited our booth at the conference. We talked to the conference attendees about digital rights including rights of FOSS projects, our free legal support for FOSS projects, how FOSS projects can protect themselves, software patents, and our other projects to protect and promote internet freedoms and digital rights including internet shutdowns, net neutrality, freedom of speech and cyber security.

We conducted two quiz competitions in which about 40 students participated. We also conducted two raffles for students in which about 70-80 people participated. Prizes for the raffles and quiz competitions included a set of SFLC.in goodies for the winners.

23 people became digital defenders by joining SFLC.in.

All Posts | Jan 03,2018

Public Discussion on Privacy & Data Protection: The Road Ahead

Date: 18 December 2017

Venue: Hotel Avenue Center, Kochi, Kerala, India

People in attendance: ~70


Key Note

Speaker: Justice A. K. Jayasankaran Nambiar, Judge, Kerala High Court

Content: Justice Nambiar spoke about the historical evolution of privacy and the need to have a public consultation before laws are formulated. He was highly critical of a rights based approach to law-making. He prefers a model based on the ancient Indian concept of Dharma. He said that problems are arising in the legal system because of a selfish approach that is promoted by rights based models that have been imported from foreign jurisdictions. In his view, following a model based on duties would solve various societal issues.



Speaker: Prasanth Sugathan, Legal Director, SFLC.in

Content: Prasanth spoke about the European data protection framework which often serves as a point of reference for legislators. He explained the current status of privacy and data protection in India, the need to have a data protection law in India, and what such a law should consist of. He introduced the public to terms such as data controller and data processor, and the nine-member expert committee’s white paper on data protection framework in India.

Panel Discussion


  1. Dr. Joseph Francis, Assistant Professor, Rajagiri School of Business

  2. Mr. Jayarishnan Kurup, CEO, Xtend technologies

  3. Mr. Raghul Sudheesh, Editor-in-Chief, Indian Jurist

Moderator: Prasanth Sugathan, Legal Director, SFLC.in

Content: The panel discussed specific issues of data protection such as consent, notice, sensitive personal data, right to access, right to rectification, enforcement models, accountability and enforcement tools, data breach notifications and categorization of data controllers, among others. The panelists spoke about the need to have a data protection law that takes into account both the rights of the people and the costs of compliance so that it does not overburden businesses. People raised various questions about Aadhaar, cyber security, collection of their data by apps, theft of their data from devices and issues with legal compliance to data protection requirements. The discussion occurred in English and Malayalam.


The panel discussion was followed by a dinner.

All Posts | Aug 04,2017

[Press Release] High Court permits filing of Income Tax Returns without quoting Aadhaar

Kochi, 4th August 2017: Prasanth Sugathan, Legal Director at SFLC.in filed a Writ petition (W.P.(C) 26033/2017) before the Hon’ble High Court of Kerala , challenging the mandatory requirement as per Section 139AA of the amended Income Tax Act, 1961 to quote Aadhaar number or enrolment ID for filing Income tax returns.

The Hon’ble High Court has admitted the matter and passed an interim order, directing the concerned Income tax Officer to allow the petitioner to file IT Returns manually, without quoting Aadhaar number or Aadhaar enrollment ID.

Earlier this year, the Supreme Court heard the challenge of mandatory linking of Aadhaat to PAN in the cases of Binoy Viswam v. Union of India (W.P.(C) 247/2017), S.G. Vombatkere & Anr. v. Union of India (W.P.(C) 277/2017) and the two-judge bench held that the PAN cards of those people who are not Aadhaar card holders, and who do not comply with the provision of Section 139(2), cannot be “treated as invalid for the time being”.

Prasanth Sugathan submitted before the Hon’ble Court that the partial stay granted by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the Binoy Viswam case would be futile, if assesses are forced to quote Aadhaar No. while filing the returns.

Mishi Choudhary, President, SFLC.in said that they have been continuously working to raise awareness about the mission creep that is happening with the Aadhaar scheme. The so-called voluntary scheme is being made mandatory for citizens to avail a host of services as well for performing obligations as a citizen.

The interim order can be read here:

About SFLC.in :
SFLC.IN is a donor supported legal services organisation that brings together lawyers, policy analysts, technologists, and students to protect freedom in the digital world. SFLC.IN promotes innovation and open access to knowledge by helping developers make great Free and Open Source Software, protect privacy and civil liberties for citizens in the digital world by educating and providing free legal advice and help policy makers make informed and just decisions with the use and adoption of technology.

For more information please contact:

Mishi Choudhary,
President and Founding Director, SFLC.in
+1 917 325 8594

Prasanth Sugathan,
Legal Director, SFLC.in
+91 90135 85902 / +91 94472 91565