“Aadhaar” of Direct Cash Transfer is more of assumptions, less of ground-level realities #UID #MUSTREAD


14 DEC, 2012,

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The government announced that from January 2013, 51 districts of the country would be subjected to Aadhaar- based direct cash transfers (DCT). We need some basic answers before we get to term the initiative as a game-changer.
Quick-fix solutions?: The latest fix is through the new improved micro ATM architecture where BCs sort out the last mile. Technology provides a fix on authentication and transaction recording. This assumes that the physical connectivity between the branch and the customer through the intervention of a human being fixes the issue.But the cash has to be delivered physically. With 1,50,000 post offices, and postmen visiting all the habitations regularly, with an instrument of money order, we have not been able to sort out the problem of transferring the cash from the coffers to the beneficiaries.

The finance ministry has not convincingly established the business case for a BC. Do we have an idea how a BC would do it better? The answer would be in commissions and incentives. Agreed.

But where is the business case to the banking institutions if these costs are loaded? Does it work at scale?

Too much is loaded on to a single intervention, involving commercial institutions, without a strong business case.

The approach of the government is worrisome. It may be a part of the measures in the run up to the 2014 election is the simplicity with which the solutions are offered. That the entire country can take a single solution; that the solution can be offered through the banking system; that the only impending problem was establishing identity; and that Aadhaar will sort out issues much more than identity and fix leakages and petty corruption.

The commercial sector would have looked at this through the lens of segmentation, test marketing and local strategies. The government believes in standardisation and scale.

Even if Aadhaar number is subjected to multiple pilots in several locations, it is difficult to imagine how these pilots have informed this aggressive rollout of cash. This space is getting to be interesting and we need to watch for more action.

Bangalore-Protest Against Section 66A to protect #FOE #FOS @2Dec


Inline image 1

Cyberzens click in protest, demand review of law

DEEPA KURUP, The Hindu
The internet, like the real world, is a much divided space. So when a controversial leader like Bal Thackeray dies, there are condolence messages and tributes, hot discussions on his legacy and criticism of what he stood for.

But all this made way for a near-united voice that condemned the arrests of two girls from Mumbai, who were arrested under Section 66A of the IT Act for an innocuous message posted on Facebook expressing casually a reaction to the city being shut down “in mourning”.

Collective angst

Perceived as an affront on freedom of speech on the internet, netizens everywhere spoke up against the authorities’ attempts to stifle dissent. In 120 characters, short status messages, casual cartoons, mash-ups and memes, netizens expressed their angst.

Gautam John, a popular Twitter-zen and lawyer, says he was “horrified” by the extent of the overreach by the police and its “misplaced priorities in dealing with the Facebook status update (which caused no physical violence) over the ransacking of the clinic (which was physical violence).” There was a complete lack of application of mind in choosing to apply Section 66A of the IT Act, a legislation he describes as a “world of trouble”.

Online petition

Mr. John has started an online petition on change.org, titled Amend Section 66A and Relook at the Internet Laws: Protect our ‘freedomofspeech’, where he points all recent incidents where Section 66A was used against netizens.

“It’s hard to [mistake] incompetence for malafide intentions. While I’m willing to give the legislature the benefit of doubt in the normal course, it is much harder to do so in this case. Especially when one looks at how Section 66A came to embody its current form,” he says.

Senthil S., IT professional and a member of the Free Software Movement of Karnataka, agrees. “It’s time for us to ask and push for a complete review of this legislation. Politicians and their cronies now seem to hate any voice of dissent. And because we’re not liquor barons, real estate rajas, mining mafias or media bosses, it appears that ordinary men and women — be it professors, students or artists — can be jailed for just having an opinion,” he says.

The FSMK had earlier organised offline protests in the city following the arrest of the West Bengal professor for emailing a cartoon, and plans to hold protests in the first week of December urging a review of the law.

Triggering fear

Cherian Tinu Abraham, social media enthusiast and an active Wikipedia editor, says that though people have spoken up against this, the Mumbai arrests triggered fear among those who share their opinions on social media.

His parents and in-laws, he says, called him the next day to tell him to be careful of what he posts and implored him to not share “strong opinions”.

He feels the government and the police have been unfair as the opinion shared was “fairly neutral”, and “with no intent to incite tensions”.

He points out that the arrest of the man who tweeted about Finance Minister Chidambaram’s son, comparing him and his “amassed wealth” to Robert Vadra, was also unfair. Funnily enough, after the man’s arrest, his number of followers on Twitter went from fewer than 20 to over 2,500 now, he said.

Keywords: IT Act, Section 66A, freedom of speech, social media, cyberzens

 

#Russia -#Censorship f’Internet blacklist law takes effect #FOS #FOE


Children using a computer

Nov 1, 2012  BBC

A law that aims to protect children from harmful internet content by allowing the government to take sites offline has taken effect in Russia.

The authorities are now able to blacklist and force offline certain websites without a trial.

The law was approved by both houses of parliament and signed by President Vladimir Putin in July.

Human rights groups have said the legislation might increase censorship in the country.

The law is the amendment to the current Act for Information.

The authorities say the goal is to protect minors from websites featuring sexual abuse of children, offering details about how to commit suicide, encouraging users to take drugs and sites that solicit children for pornography.

If the websites themselves cannot be shut down, internet service providers (ISPs) and web hosting companies can be forced to block access to the offending material.

It will be [an attack on] the freedom of speech on the internet”

Yuri VdovinCitizens’ Watch

Critics have described it another attempt by President Vladimir Putin to exercise control over the population.

“Of course there are websites that should not be accessible to children, but I don’t think it will be limited to that,” Yuri Vdovin, vice-president of Citizens’ Watch, a human rights organisation based in Saint-Petersburg, told the BBC.

“The government will start closing other sites – any democracy-oriented sites are at risk of being taken offline.

“It will be [an attack on] the freedom of speech on the internet.”

Mr Vdovin said that to close a website, the government would simply have to say that its content was “harmful to children”.

“But there are lots of harmful websites out there already, for example, fascist sites – and they could have easily been closed down by now – but no, [the government] doesn’t care, there are no attempts to do so,” he added.

A risk for websites?

Besides NGOs and human rights campaigners, websites including the Russian search engine giant Yandex, social media portal Mail.ru and the Russian-language version of Wikipedia have all protested against the law.

Screengrab of Russian Wikipedia pageThe Russian version of Wikipedia went dark for a day in protest at the law in July

The latter, for instance, took its content offline for a day ahead of the vote in July, claiming the law “could lead to the creation of extra-judicial censorship of the entire internet in Russia, including banning access to Wikipedia in the Russian language”.

Yandex temporarily crossed out the word “everything” in its “everything will be found” logo.

“The way the new law will work depends on the enforcement practice,” said a spokesman.

“Yandex, along with other key Russian market players, is ready to discuss with lawmakers the way it is going to work.”

In July, the Russian social networking site Vkontakte posted messages on users’ homepages warning that the law posed a risk to its future.

However, the country’s telecom minister Nikolai Nikiforov, suggested that such concerns were overblown when he spoke at the NeForum blogging conference this week.

“Internet has always been a free territory,” he said, according to a reportby Russian news agency Tass.

“The government is not aimed at enforcing censorship there. LiveJournal, YouTube and Facebook showcase socially responsible companies.

“That means that they will be blocked only if they refuse to follow Russian laws, which is unlikely, in my opinion.

 

 

FAQ -Copyright Amendment Act and impact on print Impaired persons


English: A collection of pictograms. Three of ...

English: A collection of pictograms. Three of them used by the United States National Park Service. A package containing those three and all NPS symbols is available at the Open Icon Library (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Some Frequently Asked Questions to the Amendment to the Copyright Act of India, 1957 and its Impact on Print Impaired Persons


1. Who benefits?

All print impaired persons be they totally blind, low vision, learning disabled or orthopedically challenged in certain ways are covered by this clause.

2. What can be done now that was not possible earlier?

Print impaired individuals, or authorized service providers / organizations can suitably modify a work under Copyright so as to make it accessible to meet the specific needs of the print impaired person concerned. This means that a standard printed book, for example may be converted to an alternate format (not necessarily a special format) including Braille, large font, text readable by screen reader, audio (be it synthetic audio or human voice recording) without seeking the permission of the rights holder.

3. How is this different?

In the past, any alternate format creation could have been defined as an infringement unless it was backed up by prior written permission from the rights holder. One had to seek the permission if one had to be on the right side of the law. Now thankfully we do not need permissions.

4.  Are there any restrictions?

Yes, there are reasonable restrictions such as
– conversion should be a not for profit activity. In case it is a for profit activity, there is a separate clause under which a special license can be obtained.
– the beneficiaries has to be a bonafide print impaired person or organizations that serve them.
– reasonable precaution need to be taken by all that the accessible copy is not misused commercially.

5. Does this mean that the publisher has to give soft copy?

No. The copyright law does not cover the delivery of books which is the purview of another department and another law. We are planning to take it up as well. For the present, these exemptions allow an existing work which is not accessible to be made accessible without permission.

6. Can accessible copy be shared?

Effectively yes, as long as it is not misused for commercial purposes and is available to print impaired persons only.

7. What is the wording of the clause?

It runs as follows.

Section 52 (1)The following act shall not be an infringement of copyright, namely:
(zb) the adaptation, reproduction, issue of copies or communication to the public of any work in any accessible format, by —
(i) any person to facilitate persons with disability to access to works including sharing with any person with disability of such accessible format for private or personal use, educational purpose or research; or
(ii) any organization working for the benefit of the persons with disabilities in case the normal format prevents the enjoyment of such works by such persons:
Provided that the copies of the works in such accessible format are made available to the persons with disabilities on a nonprofit basis but to recover only the cost of production:
Provided further that the organization shall ensure that the copies of works in such accessible format are used by persons with disabilities and takes reasonable steps to prevent its entry into ordinary channels of business.
Explanation. For the purposes of the sub-clause, “any organization” includes an organization registered under section 12A of the Income Tax Act, 1961 and working for the benefit of persons with disability or recognized under Chapter X of the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995 or receiving grants from the Government for facilitating access to persons with disabilities or an educational institution or library or archives recognized by the Government.

8. What provisions affect the creation of accessible cop[ies when it is undertaken as a not for profit activity?

The following new section involving a compulsory license would be applicable

³31B. (1) Any person working for the benefit of persons with disability on a profit basis or for business may apply to the Copyright Board, in such form and manner and accompanied by such fee as may be prescribed, for a compulsory license to publish any work in which copyright subsists for the benefit of such persons, in a case to which clause (zb) of sub-section (1) of section 52 does not apply and the Copyright Board shall dispose of such application as expeditiously as possible and endeavor shall be made to dispose of such application within a period of two months from the date of receipt of the application.

(2) The Copyright Board may, on receipt of an application under sub-section (1), inquire, or direct such inquiry as it considers necessary to establish the credentials of the applicant and satisfy itself that the application has been made in good faith.

(3) If the Copyright Board is satisfied, after giving to the owners of rights in the work a reasonable opportunity of being heard and after holding such inquiry as it may deem necessary, that a compulsory license needs to be issued to make the work available to the disabled, it may direct the Registrar of Copyrights to grant to the applicant such a license to publish the work.

(4) Every compulsory license issued under this section shall specify the means and format of publication, the period during which the compulsory license may be exercised and, in the case of issue of copies, the number of copies that may be issued including the rate or royalty:
Provided that where the Copyright Board has issued such a compulsory license it may, on a further application and after giving reasonable opportunity to the owners of rights, extend the period of such compulsory license and allow the issue of more copies as it may deem fit.

 

Compiled By:

The Xavier’s Resource Centre for the Visually Challenged (XRCVC)
Dr. Sam Taraporevala
St. Xavier’s College, 5 Mahapalika Marg, Mumbai 400001
#+91-22-22623298/22626329

Online essay competition on disability issues


A collection of pictograms. Three of them used...

A collection of pictograms. Three of them used by the United States National Park Service. A package containing those three and all NPS symbols is available at the Open Icon Library (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sruti disAbility Rights Center invites you to join an online essay competition.

Topics:

1.     My response to a wheelchair.

2.    When the bus conductor denied Nagma, a young blind girl, a journey to her destination…

3.    Inclusive Education for children with disabilities in the post Right to Education Act

2009 era.

4.    Bollywood’s attempt to mainstream the marginalized.

Word count: 3000 (upper limit)

Deadline: 10th May, 2012

Date of announcement of winners: 30th May 2012

  • All applicants must mention their name, age, and postal address at the end of the essay.
  • 3 top essays will be awarded attractive prizes.
  • Best essays will be published by Sruti and used as advocacy material for disability rights.

For entries and queries, please mail to sruti.inclusion@gmail.com

For more information, please call Proma Basu Roy at 09748856474.