Defender of your Digital Freedom

All Posts | Dec 23,2017

SFLC.in at Internet Governance Forum 2017

The twelfth annual meeting of Internet Governance Forum (IGF) was held in Geneva, Switzerland at the UN Office at Geneva (UNOG) from 18 to 21 December, 2017. The theme for the meeting this year was ‘Shape Your Digital Future!’

IGF is a global multi-stakeholder platform to facilitate inclusive, productive discussions on Internet related public policy issues from a general perspective. The purpose of IGF is to maximize the opportunity for open and inclusive dialogue and the exchange of ideas on Internet governance related issues; create opportunities to share best practices and experiences; identify emerging issues and bring them to the attention of the relevant bodies and the general public; contribute to capacity building for Internet governance.

SFLC.in was represented by Mishi Choudhary, President and Founding Director at the annual forum. She participated as a speaker at the following sessions:

  • WS 129: Making artificial intelligence (AI) work for equity and social justice (20th December, 15:00-16:30):
    This session was organised by Just Net Coalition in collaboration with Social Watch. This workshop discussed various pertinent issues such as what humans can expect from AI systems and how to control them, the ethical and regulatory commands that can be inculcated into upcoming technology, amongst others.
    The official transcript of the session can be accessed here.
  • WS 8: Open Source: Defending Freedoms in the Digital Future (20th December, 11:50-13:20):
    This session was co-organised by ISOC-TRV and FOSS Foundation for Africa. The session had detailed discussions in three breakout groups on following topics: (1) tools and technologies provided by FOSS; (2) methodologies, processes and best practices in dealing with the processes of content generation, validation and distribution; and (3) policy initiatives. The session comprised of following speakers:  Mishi Choudhary, Glenn Mcknight, Sarah Kiden, Olivier Crepin-Leblond, Panayotis Antoniadis, Oktavia Hrund and Nicolás Echániz.
    The official transcript of this session is available here.
  • WS 154: The Distributed Denial of Democracy: Threats to Democratic Processes Online (21st December, 10:40 - 11:40)
    Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) in collaboration with National Democratic Institute (NDI) organised this session.  This panel highlighted a number of threats to online democracy and effective solutions for addressing those threats. The panelists for this session included Hanane Boujemi, Martha Roldos, Chris Doten, Jehan Ara, Mishi Choudhary and Matt Chessen.
    The official transcript of this session is available here.

All Posts | Nov 22,2017

Seminar on IPR for Start Ups and Entrepreneurs in Software & IT Enabled Industries

The Technology Centre of Confederation of Indian Industry(CII) in association with Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) is organizing a Seminar on Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) for Start Ups & Entrepreneurs in Software & IT Enabled Industries on November 22, 2017 at Hotel Holiday Inn, Kochi. The Program aims to provide a platform for Startups to discuss on range of perspectives pertaining to IP; the opportunities, challenges, and the role of IP for Startups in the rapidly evolving marketplace. The following topics will be discussed during the technical session:
  • Fundamentals of IPR for start-ups & entrepreneurs
  • IP journey for start ups - why, when, how and where to start.
  • Software licensing: proprietary software and open source software –  opportunities & challenges
  • IP transactions: practical tips to manage IP for start ups & entrepreneurs in ICT sector; understanding types of documents and contracts  in IPR
Prasanth Sugathan, Legal Director at SFLC.in will speak on the topic "Software Licensing: Proprietary Software and Open Source Software - Opportunities and Challenges" at 2:00 PM.

All Posts | Jan 05,2017

Information received regarding SWAYAM under Right To Information Act, 2005

SWAYAM, the national Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) project established by Ministry of Human Rights Development (MHRD), is a laudatory effort set to serve as a source for courses related to all fields from high school to post graduation. This one stop destination is meant to bridge the educational and digital divide by ensuring learning resources are made accessible in consonance with principles of equity and affordability in the varying socio-economic sectors of the country. Last year it was announced that the development of SWAYAM platform has been decided to be pursued through proprietary platform, disregarding free and open source software (FOSS) options that have proved successful and are being used in MOOC platforms such as edX at the global scale.

SFLC.in conducted in-depth research regarding the discussions that took place by the committees within the MHRD that led to the decision of choosing proprietary software, despite India having implemented the Policy on adoption of Open Source Software for the Government of India in 2015 that makes it a mandatory requirement for all e-governance projects undertaken by various Government organizations to adopt open source software as a preferred option in comparison to closed source software, and wherever making the decision to choose closed source software, to provide reasons in writing. To generate awareness about this issue, a Joint Letter, signed by various academics, non profit organizations, and individuals, was drafted by us and sent to the MHRD. A copy of this Joint Letter can be accessed here.

[Our findings from this research, and a time-line of the events since the inception of the project in 2014 can be accessed here and here respectively.]

In addition, we also filed applications under the Right to Information Act, 2005 for a complete set of minutes of certain meetings that were unavailable on MHRD’s online portal. The applications filed by us asked for the minutes of the meeting held by the technical committee that decided to use proprietary software and awarded the contract to Microsoft. In the reply received by us, we were provided with the minutes of the 9thmeeting of the SWAYAM Project Cell (SPC) where Microsoft was finalized as the Systems Integrator for SWAYAM.

It has details of the discussions regarding the projected costs and further states that the technical and management committees constituted by The All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) for the purpose of deciding the method of development of SWAYAM had come to the conclusion that in-house developers from National Informatics Centre Services Inc. (NICSI) should be recruited for developing the platform, and “keeping in view the complexity of the project and the requirement of timely and reliable servicing facility, SWAYAM should be developed on a proprietary IT platform rather than open source.”

Furthermore, it states that available systems of Microsoft, Oracle, IBM, and SAP were evaluated, and Microsoft was chosen for the following reasons:

  1. Microsoft platform has the whole bouquet of systems required for designing the MOOCs application, viz SQL, Windows servers, Share point, Dot Net and System Centre.

  2. The Software licenses (Educational versions) are available at highly subsidized rates under Education Discount Policy through their Authorized Education Partners (AEPs) as LSPs.

  3. Microsoft platform is available on DGS&D Rate Contract, so we can buy the same off the shelf.” [Point 9.3 of the minutes of the meeting]

Watch this space for updates on further RTIs we have filed on this topic.

For the entire text of the RTI reply and the minutes of the above mentioned meeting, refer here.

All Posts | Apr 04,2014

Event: Open Source For Start-ups

A panel discussion titled 'Open Source For Start-ups' will be organised by IIM Bangalore on the 5th of April. Mishi Choudhary, Executive Director of SFLC.in will be delivering the keynote address along with Prof. Rahul De, Professor at IIM Bangalore and SFLC.in's Board Member.

Taking the open-source route in a start-up's product development efforts is a strategic choice as it provides easily accessible raw materials for start ups that operate with minimum resources.

The Free and Open-source model turns the traditional wisdom on its head and suggests product development as a collaborative effort. The development process benefits from community wisdom allowing feature improvements across competition and clones.

The event is is designed specifically to highlight and understand the following

  • Trade-offs going opensource

  • Licensing Issues: GPL, LGPL, MPL
  • and much more...
Prior Registration is a must to attend this event. Click here to register.

Venue: Auditorium, IIMB
Dates: Saturday, Arpil 05
Time: 09:30 AM to 01:30 PM