May 18, 2020

Putting the Cart before the Horse? A response to the NODE white paper

The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITY) put out a white paper introducing the concept of a National Open Digital Ecosystems (NODEs). The system is envisaged to be an 'open and secure delivery platforms, anchored by transparent governance mechanisms, which will enable a community of partners to unlock innovative solutions, to transform societal outcomes’. This concept has arisen as a response to the need to rethink current public service delivery systems, in order to shift to more open and shared digital platforms.

However, while the envisaged national open digital ecosystems (NODEs) is a claim toward enabling citizen-centric governance and fuelling innovation, we identify the need for several prerequisites prior to its deployment. Our response highlights concerns that include varying levels of digitalisation, underdeveloped institutions for data governance, weak privacy and security infrastructure, and the absence of public deliberation around the purpose and governance of NODEs. Without addressing these issues, NODEs could amount to a case of putting the cart before the horse, with significant risks in terms of privacy, security, discrimination, and the unequal distribution of technology gains.

Initiative

AI & Society

Authors

Urvashi Aneja

Urvashi Aneja is Founding Director of Tandem Research. She works on the governance and sociology of emerging technology; southern partnerships for humanitarian and development assistance; and the power and politics of global civil society. Urvashi is also Associate Fellow at Chatham House and a columnist for the Indian Express. She has a PhD from the Department of Politics & International Relations, University of Oxford. Previously, she was Associate Professor of International Relations at the OP Jindal Global University and Research Fellow at the Observer Research Foundation.

Angelina Chamuah

Angelina Chamuah is a Research Fellow at Tandem Research. Her current work is focused on understanding regulatory frameworks for emerging technologies in India.She is interested in studying the development of emerging technologies and the complex entanglements between technology and society. Her M.Phil. research is centered on human-machine interactions in the context of social robotics and engages with questions of design and agency in the building of affective relationalities between humans and social robots. She has an M.A and M.Phil. in Sociology from Delhi School of Economics and a B.A (H) in Sociology from Miranda House, New Delhi.

Harsh Ghildiyal

Harsh Ghildiyal is a Research Associate at Tandem Research. He currently works on research across the technology and society vertical. Harsh is interested in understanding the social implications of technology, consequent regulatory responses, and working towards an equitable technological future. Before joining Tandem Research, he was a Teach for India fellow. He has a B.A., LL.B. (Hons.) degree from Damodaram Sanjivayya National Law University, Visakhapatnam.

Joanne D'Cunha

Joanne D'Cunha is a law graduate from Symbiosis Law School with a Masters in Information Technology and Intellectual Property Rights from the University of Sussex, United Kingdom. She has worked on legal and policy aspects of free speech, surveillance, data protection, net neutrality, and intermediary liability. She currently is a Research Associate at Tandem working in the AI and Society program.