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Is State Control over Technologies Democratic?
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Is State Control over Technologies Democratic?

Post by on Thursday, July 15, 2021

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In 2006, Mathematician Clive Humby coined the phrase “Data is the new oil”. With advent of Technology especially the Internet, the social lifestyle and governance style has seen drastic change. Big Data, E-governance, and Artificial Intelligence (AI) gained new currency in the last decade. The Government of India had anchored most of its schemes through Digital India Initiative and Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) through Aadhar Card linked bank account & Mobile phone numbers. 
However, in a famous case I.e. Justice K.S. Puttaswamy (Retd) vs Union of India and Ors (2017), The Supreme Court Observed ‘Right to Privacy’ as a fundamental right under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution subjected to reasonable restrictions by the state. Similarly Regulating Big Tech social media firms like Facebook & Twitter, which nowadays play the role of ‘Opinion Modulator’ in democratic countries with high consumer base is becoming a burning topic worldwide.
In India, the recent clash between the technical giants (Twitter and WhatsApp) and GoI came into spotlight when GoI Introduced IT (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules 2021 and also Delhi High court & Competition Commission of India (CCI) Intervention in WhatsApp New Privacy Guidelines this year. The Government recently revoked Twitter’s Intermediary Platforms as it failed to comply the latest rule and it is facing legal proceedings in various courts now.
The other countries had also acted on regulation of these powerful Apps. Australia passed New Media Bargaining Code, others are Poland, Canada in recent times. Presently in India, Joint Committee of Parliament is previewing “Personal Data Protection Bill”
In Tug of war between Government Vs Tech Giants, The Consumer (citizens) are at the receiving end. Struck between Government’s definition of Degree of Freedom and Tech Giant’s Algorithm, the role of his/her is limited to mute spectators.
There is no denying the fact that the nation needs to regulate these tech firms to protect her citizen’s interests. But maintaining the sanctity of democratic values remains ambiguous since laws are like double edged swords as we have seen various arrests of commoners by different state governments for sharing social media posts.
(Author is a Ph.D. Research Scholar of Public Policy & Public Administration at Central University of Jammu)

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