Internet Rights in Africa: A Comment

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The Internet is an enabling space. It provides us with the realization of our basic human rights, including the right to freedom of expression, opinion, thought and belief. In this blog post, I have tried to give an overview of the recent developments with regard to the Internet rights in Africa.

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The Pornography Question

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The Problem

This post comes as a response to the recent litigation by Mr Kamlesh Vaswani in the Supreme Court. While the international stance towards pornography has been to allow adults to access it generally but absolutely prohibit certain kinds of pornography such as child porn, Mr Vaswani has asked for a blanket ban. His main demand was that the court make watching pornography a non-bailable offence because he said that it was the main cause of rapes in this country. While his contention can and has been argued about on other forums, what concerns us is the technical part. Is it actually possible to regulate pornography on the internet? And what are the consequences of doing so? These are the questions that I will dwell upon in this blog post.

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Google, ARA and Open Source Licensing

(This post was earlier published on SpicyIP)

Google, ARA and Open Source Licensing

Motorola’s-take-on-Phonebloks-Project-Ara-2When Google sold Motorola, which it had bought only a short while ago for a certain amount, there was a considerable amount of speculation over the sale. One of the most curious points about the deal, though, was that Google had retained Advanced Technologies and Projects group, the Research and Development wing of Motorola. This division was tasked with developing one of the most revolutionary technologies of the century – the modular smart phone, known as Project ARA. The project aims to build a free and open hardware platform for creating modular smartphones. Google released the Module Developer Kit (MDK) for the project in early April this year, giving the developers whatever they need in order to start making modules for the device. This post will focus on the MDK’s IP licensing policy and its implications. Continue reading Google, ARA and Open Source Licensing

On the Need for Network Neutrality

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(This post was published earlier on SpicyIP)

Network Neutrality

The debate around Network Neutrality is a decades old debate, but it is not any less relevant for it. The idea of ‘Network Neutrality’ is, simply put, that ISPs do not price-discriminate between their consumers. Thus, under the Net Neutrality regime, an Internet Service Provider (ISP) cannot charge different consumers different prices for different speeds, shifting those that pay more to the ‘fast lane’ and the others to a ‘slow lane’. This is especially relevant in the case of service providers which rely on the internet to reach their customers, such as Google, Amazon, YouTube, Hulu, Netflix, et cetera. The argument made in favour of Network Neutrality is that this model is the only way to ensure the innovation and openness that the internet is known for, and one of the core ideologies that stands in the way of the internet following the path taken by other innovations such as the radio, the television, and the phone, and ending up as an integrated and essentially monopolised and commercialised technology. The argument made by the ISPs, against Network Neutrality, is that without the freedom to charge higher prices for faster services, they have no incentive to upgrade their infrastructure to provide for faster services. And even before that, they argue that the network neutrality system does not allow them to fully capitalise on their existing infrastructure itself, something they have expended immense amounts of capital on.  Continue reading On the Need for Network Neutrality

ICANN and a Changing Internet

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(This post was earlier published on SpicyIP)

ICANN and a Changing Internet

Ever since Swaraj covered the new domain names being permitted by ICANN back in 2011 on SpicyIP, there have been a few quite crucial developments. Before moving on to these developments, a quick background of some relevant points.

Part I: Introduction – background 

The Domain Name System is the current back bone of accessing the internet. It essentially acts as an address book of the Internet for computers, translating human-readable website addresses such as ‘spicyip.com’ to their unique numerical IP addresses that the browser can read, thereby allowing it to access the requested content. The human readable part of a domain name is divided into two parts – the name of the website, and the ‘TLD’ that comes after it. For instance, in ‘wordpress.com’, ‘wordpress’ is the name of the website, and ‘.com’ is the ‘TLD’. A very handy guide to the Domain Name System is available here, courtesy of the Internet Society. Continue reading ICANN and a Changing Internet

Email Read Receipts: The Postal Rule in the Electronic Age

Only last semester, I had a slight mix-up regarding my project submission where my professor did not receive the mail containing my project despite it being in my sent folder. By the time I realised that he hadn’t received it, it was too late.  It was that what got me thinking about read receipts. A read receipt is basically an intimation that your sent email was read by your intended recipient. This could be immensely helpful to people who send material that would generally require a reply on the part of the other party. I for one can attest to that. Imagine sending your internship applications with the read receipt turned on. You’ll know exactly when they read it and you’ll no more have to suffer the torture of wondering whether they actually haven’t had time to look at your application yet or are simply ignoring it. However, the aim of this post is to examine if these would be of any assistance to us in the legal profession.

Continue reading Email Read Receipts: The Postal Rule in the Electronic Age

A Statement of Purpose

The Tech Law Forum aims, essentially, to provide a platform for opinions, comments, and responses – a platform for discussions and debates on all issues relating to Technology Law, with a specific focus on India. We chose the Forum’s existing format due to the constantly evolving nature of technological advances, and the necessarily immediate, or even better, proactive, nature of responses to such developments. The Forum aims to serve as a place for students, academicians and practitioners from the fields of technology and law, both, to discuss relevant issues. At the same time, the Forum also aims to provide a ready commentary on recent developments in the field from its own Editors, and to link readers to other interesting resources and articles.

We also aim to create a The Commons, a diverse and cohesive collection of  links to Creative Commons and Public Domains resources related to Tech Law,  for anyone who needs them.

To get started, mail us at techlawforum.nalsar@gmail.com.

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