If one had any doubt about the intensity and breadth of public policy debates in India, or about the centrality of the country for the future of the digital world, three simultaneous developments should prove that it is essential to follow the world’s largest data market. Let’s remember that the country has nearly 600 million internet users, who downloaded 12 billion apps in 2018, while the entire population now has an individual digital identity.

François Godement
Godement, an expert on Chinese and East Asian strategic and international affairs, is a nonresident senior fellow in the Asia Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
More >

India’s Supreme Court cites Charles Dickens and goes on to censor the central government on its indefinite blockade of internet services in Kashmir. A two-year-old inception of a detailed Personal Data Protection Bill (PDPB) culminates in a parliamentary debate of both Houses. And an antitrust inquiry is launched against Amazon during the very visit to India by Jeff Bezos, who came promising billions to help small Indian shopkeepers and boost the export of more Indian products…

Each of these three events has its own dynamic and its own finality. Taken together, they suggest a shifting and unsettled balance between the Indian state, individuals and foreign companies. The Supreme Court judgment by a panel of three judges reflects a legal culture of checks and balances, heavily invested in British and in fact more often American case law. It positions internet communications as part of the right to free expression, as well as a key component of the economy and trade. It recognizes the central government’s argument on terrorism in the region, and it does not challenge directly the contention that the terrorist threat in India has cross-border characteristics. Nor does it take exception, of course, with the wide restrictions to free expression provided by article 19 of India’s Constitution.

Read Full text

This article was originally published by Institut Montaigne.