There is a dearth of platforms and people who are interested in delving deep into the multitude of issues that plague digital Indians today. What’s even more difficult is finding people who do it in an accessible manner. A large part of my job is to ensure that the work we do reaches people and finding partners who can help us make everyone informed about their digital rights and the threats to it.
Collaboration has been a central function of growing awareness and providing a basis of civic engagement for more Indians. One of the first attempts we made was when the generous and excellent team from the independent digital media platform, Suno India reached out to us with their, “Cyber Democracy” podcast.
Suno India’s “Cyber Democracy” explores our digital fears and desires
In December last year, we decided to collaborate with Suno India on Cyber Democracy, a podcast that seeks to find out what democracy means in the digital age. This podcast is hosted by Srinivas Kodali, an independent, public interest technologist who has been relentlessly researching and documenting the development of public policy and regulations around tech in India.
He uses the audio medium effectively by holding succinct and in-depth conversations with experts and activists alike, making it accessible for the larger public. From using drones to surveil protestors to mass deployment of facial recognition technologies- just when you think we have seen it all, something newer and crazier comes up. The worst part? The everyday Indian knows very little of these developments. This is precisely why collaborations like these become even more important to help us scale our impact. As a community-centric organisation, we need to focus on working with people and communities. Platforms like Suno India and shows like Cyber Democracy help us bridge the gap between our work and people’s understanding of their fundamental rights.
A podcast that talks about technology policy without being boring
One of the first episodes of Cyber Democracy throws light on the government’s reluctance to own up to data leaks and bugs as part of their systems. The episode is called Bugs in Cyberspace and you can listen to it here. It talks about one of the most persistent problems that plague us - the government’s vehement denial in the face of data leaks. A lot of the times, when these bugs have been brought to the attention of the authorities, the researchers simply don’t hear back from them. This is particularly scary in these times of rampant data breaches.
Another one of such eye-opening episodes is about the increased use of drones and how their use is regulated and if these regulations are implemented. The episode was called Mechanical Birds. It discovers the history of regulations and how their use has changed over the years. It also speaks about the illegal use of drones during protests (more on this, here) and how these regulations apply to authorities and if they even need permits in the first place. Listen to the whole episode here.
As someone who hasn’t studied law, I’m not familiar with a lot of the technical and legal terms that are often thrown around when we discuss these issues. It’s important that people understand what’s exactly at stake so they can fight back and help us fight back. One of the bugs that Karan from the Bugs In Cyberspace episode found in the Indian Gases web API impacted 600 million potential users whose records were stored in the database.
Tune in, today.
And now, after a series of insightful episodes and discovering things that make you wonder if you heard that right - This season of Cyber Democracy is going to end soon. Podcasts like these help us find newer ways to engage with people and communities. In other words, they have our back when we need it the most.
The entire team at IFF is so thankful to have worked with Srinivas Kodali and Suno India on Cyber Democracy and we look can’t wait to see what’s in store for season two.