C-suite movements

Key recent C-suite movements to watch

by | Dec 11, 2020 | C-Track

Here is a quick update on the key recent C-suite movements in the areas of information security and information technology in India.
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Here is a quick update on some key recent C-suite movements in the information technology and information security technology areas in India.

11 December 2020 Update

Jagdip Kumar roped in by Lohia Group as CIO

Jagdip Kumar, General Manager, IT, left Cosmo Films to join Lohia Group as CIO. In this new position, Kumar will lead the digital transformation efforts of the Lohia Group.

Lohia Group is a diversified manufacturing company that produces various products such as flexible packaging, threads, plastic components for automobiles and machines.

Kumar has over 19 years of experience and has earlier worked with AMW, VE Commercial Vehicles, and Welspun.

Puneesh Lamba joins Shahi Exports as Group CIO

Puneesh Lamba, Group CIO of CK Birla Group, has moved to Shahi Exports as their Group Chief Technology Officer (CTO). Lamba will directly report to the Board of Directors of Shahi Exports.

Shahi Export is India’s biggest apparel manufacturer and exporter and has several manufacturing units across nine Indian states and over 100,000 workforce. In the new role at Shahi Exports, Lamba will spearhead its digital transformation and cloud-based tech-innovation initiatives.

Lamba is a seasoned IT professional with a strong experience of over 27 years. He has previously associated with firms such as BILT, Punj Loyd, GE Capital in leadership roles.

Kapil Madan is Spark Minda Group’s new CISO

Spark Minda Group has appointed Kapil Madaan as its new Chief Information Security Officer (CISO). The company has a strong presence in the global automotive sector, catering to a passenger vehicle, commercial vehicle, two-wheelers, and off-road vehicle manufacturing.

Madan has previously worked with Max Healthcare as a cybersecurity leader.

Rohit Kilam moves to CMS Info Systems as CTO

Rohit Kilam has joined CMS Info Systems Ltd as Chief Technology Officer (CTO). CMS Info Systems is India’s top Cash Management and Payment Solutions company. In his new role, Rohit will lead to several process transformations and tech-innovations at CMS Info-Systems.

Rohit has earlier worked in a gamut of challenging assignments in Digital Transformations, IT Strategy, IT Performance Management, Building Digital products, Operating Models, M&A IT Integration, Outsourcing Governance, Tech Product development, and ERP implementations.

He has earlier worked with companies such as Adani Enterprises, Masan Group, and IBM in leadership roles

20 September 2020 Update

Shuvankar Pramanick, CIO, Columbia Asia Hospitals

Shuvankar Pramanick has been appointed as the new CIO of Columbia Asia Hospitals Pvt. Ltd, a group of multi-specialty hospitals that operates in cities like Bangalore, Ghaziabad, Gurgaon, Mysore, Kolkata, Patiala, and Pune.

Bringing 20+ years of experience, Pramanick will focus on building new tech innovations in the healthcare sector while leading the IT team of the group. Pramanick has previously held senior IT leadership positions Paras Healthcare, Fortis Healthcare, and Asian Institute of Medical Sciences.

Marc Concannon, CTO, Cubic Telecom 

Marc Concannon has joined as CTO of Software IoT (Internet of Things) and connectivity management company, Cubic Telecom. In this new role, he will focus on Cubic’s software product roadmap and growth strategy. With over 20 years of experience, Concannon has previously served as the CTO at ClavisInsight, LogEntries, and Edge by Ascential.

Kamal Hathi, CTO, DocuSign

DocuSign has roped in former Microsoft veteran Kamal Hathi as their new CTO. With over 25 years of experience leading technology and product teams at startups and global multinationals alike, Hathi will oversee the development and execution of DocuSign’s technology roadmap, and support product expansion.

San Francisco based DocuSign help organizations manage and automate electronic agreements.

 

24 July 2020 Update

Munish Mittal, Group HeadIT & CIO leaves HDFC Bank

Munish Mittal, Group Head-Information Technology & Chief Information Officer at HDFC Bank has exited HDFC Bank. He had joined the private lender in 1996 as IT Manager. During his 24 years tenure at HDFC, he spearheaded various roles, including managing the IT strategy of the bank and its associated companies, HDFC Securities, and HDB Financial Services. Mittal has not disclosed his future plans yet.

A Shiju Rawther roped in by Poonawalla Finance for CIO role

A Shiju Rawther has been appointed as the CIO of Poonawalla Finance. In his new role, Rawther will lead IT functions and strategies, and be responsible for designing the digital roadmap of the organization. He will also spearhead the company’s analytics function. Rawther has moved from IIFL Finance where he was the Executive Vice President–Technology. He has over two decades of experience in driving digital transformation, innovation, and analytics in various multinationals.

Dr. Jai Menon joins the Advisory board of IndiQus Technologies

Dr. Jai Menon, the former Group CTO of HT Media, has joined the advisory board of IndiQus Technologies, a leading telecom cloud monetization platform provider. Dr. Menon is a global technology leader with over three decades of global experience across the US, Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia. He is largely known for his various technology leadership roles at Bharti Airtel. In his new role at IndiQus, Dr. Menon will play an active strategic role in IndiQus’s product evolution and the company’s expansion plans.

Gaurav Kataria joins Sai Life Science as Chief Digital and Information Officer (CDIO)

Gaurav Kataria has joined Sai Life Sciences as Chief Digital and Information Officer (CDIO). He was previously working as Vice President of Digital Strategy and Solutions (Aerospace & Defense) at Cyient. In his new role, Kataria will be driving the digital and IT strategy for Sai Life Sciences, a full-service Contract Development and Manufacturing Organization (CDMO). Sai Life Science works with innovator pharma and biotech companies globally to accelerate the discovery, development, and manufacture of complex small molecules.

Amit Waghmare takes up CIO role at DB Corp

Amit Waghmare has joined DB Corp as the Chief Information Officer (CIO). Amit has moved on from Page Industries where he was heading IT for more than two years. DB Corp, formerly known as Dainik Bhaskar, is a leading media organization headquartered in Bhopal. Waghmare has over 17 years of work experience in the IT sector with a demonstrated history of working in the Media, Power, Textile, Pharma, Real Estate, Luggage, Apparel, and fashion industry.

09 June 2020 Update

Unique Kumar joins CK Birla Group as Group CISO
Unique Kumar has been appointed as Group CISO of CK Birla Group, a diversified $2.4 billion conglomerate with over 25,000 employees and 41 manufacturing facilities.

Kumar joins the CK Birla group from Max Healthcare, where he was heading Digital Innovation and Cybersecurity. He has also held leadership positions with Aviva Life Insurance, Aptara, and Idea Cellular.

Manish Shetty moves to Diageo India as CIO
Manish Shetty is Diageo India’s new CIO. Shetty was earlier working as Director–IT at Tata Consumer Products. Prior to that, he was CIO at Sanofi and before that Director–IT at Tata Global Beverages. Shetty has also held leadership and managerial positions at companies like Birlasoft, Radian, KPMG US, American Express, and Larsen & Toubro Information Technology.

Diageo plc is a British multinational alcoholic beverages company, with its headquarters in London, England and offices in six continents.

Sun Life names Laura Money as new global EVP and CIO
Sun Life Financial Inc has announced the appointment of Laura Money as Executive Vice-President and Chief Information Officer effective 29 June 2020. Laura will report to Kevin Strain, Chief Financial Officer and Executive Vice-President, Sun Life. She succeeds Mark Saunders, EVP, and Chief Information Officer, who announced his plans to retire at the end of April next year.

Sun Life is a leading international financial services organization providing insurance, wealth, and asset management solutions to individual and corporate clients. Sun Life has operations in a number of markets worldwide, including Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Japan, Indonesia, India, China, Australia, Singapore, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Bermuda.

31 May 2020 Update

Jayanta Bhowmik joins Kesoram Industries as group CIO
Kesoram Industries is a part of the BK Birla Group Of Companies. The company is engaged in the manufacturing of cement, tyres, tubes, rayon, paper, heavy chemicals, and spun pipes. Bhowmik has moved from Usha Martin, where he served as a Senior Vice President of IT and Group CIO. In his earlier stints, he had held senior leadership positions at Appejay Surrendra Group, Tega Industries, HCL Technologies, and ABP.

Ranjit Satyanath, Head of Technology Operations at Croma, quits
Satyanath had joined Chroma in August 2014, and successfully led the IT strategy and digital initiatives at Croma, one of India’s largest consumer electronics and appliances retailer.

Manish Mimani quits Aviva Life Insurance to become an entrepreneur 
Manish Mimani, CIO for Aviva Life Insurance, has moved on to pursue an entrepreneurship path. Mimani has launched a new cybersecurity firm, Protectt.ai Labs, with an aim to build next-generation mobile security and real-time fraud management solutions.

14 May 2020 Update

Anis Pankhania joins Capgemini as Senior Director – Security Operations and Compliance.
Pankhania is based in Pune and joins Capgemini from Vodafone Idea, where he was heading Security Compliance and Data Privacy. In his new role, Pankhania will lead a team of specialized IT security and risk professionals. Pankhania has earlier worked in senior IT security roles in companies such as Aircel, IBM, and Airtel.

Mihir Joshi joins HDFC Pension Management and HDFC International Life and Re as CISO
In his new role, Joshi will be managing the operations and administration of various IT security devices, solutions, technologies, and processes deployed to enhance the security posture for HDFC Life, HDFC Pension, and HDFC LifeRe. Immediately prior to this, he was with Ares Management Corporation where he set up the Cybersecurity practice from scratch.

BNP Paribas appoints Mannan Godil as Director & India Head, Information Security & Business Continuity Management
Mannan Godil has joined BNP Paribas as Director & India Head, Information Security & Business Continuity Management. He has been roped in from Edelweiss Financial Services where he was working as Senior Vice President, Head – Information Security / CISO. Previously, he had also served in companies, such as eClerx Services, Zener Electronics, Stream Tracmail, and S.S. Nirban Enterprises.

Rajesh Hemrajani is the new CISO at Paytm Payments Bank
Rajesh Hemrajani has been appointed as CISO at Paytm Payments Bank. Prior to this, he was CISO at IDFC First Bank. Previously, he has held several leadership and roles at companies like RBS, Nomura Securities, Emirates Airlines, and Dubal.

Manish Bhatia joins Lendingkart as President – Technology, Analytics & Capabilities
Manish Bhatia has been roped in by Lendingkart as President – Technology, Analytics & Capabilities. In his previous role, he was the CTO at Amazon Pay India. He was also the Co-founder and CTO at Buymaxo, and previously served in organizations like Education Finance Partners, FedEx Office, and JP Morgan Chase.

If you think we’ve missed out featuring any other key recent C-suite movements/appointments in the above list, please feel free to drop a line to us at betterworld@bmnxt.com

MORE FROM BETTER WORLD

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Time to get ‘responsible’ with AI systems
User study on WhatsApp new privacy policy
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Time to get ‘responsible’ with AI systems

Time to get ‘responsible’ with AI systems

Humans have built very complex robotic systems, such as convoys and airplanes, and even neural networks to communicate with each other, but we’re only starting to scratch the surface of what artificial intelligence (AI) can do. It’s also about time we started paying more attention to ‘responsible AI.’

A future with artificial intelligence would be very mixed. It would be an actuality that could not only eliminate many of today’s human jobs, but also allow us to solve complex problems much faster than we could if we used a human brain to solve those same complex problems.

As technology gets closer to achieving full intelligence, we will start seeing the artificial intelligence (AI) systems that are fully self-aware and can think, reason, and act like a human would. This may raise some concerns, because some people fear that as artificially intelligent computers become more advanced, they might start to have a good enough IQ to be more intelligent than humans. The concern is not if, but when, it might happen.

In future we will have artificial intelligent robotic ‘teams’ of robots that can do all the menial tasks which we traditionally assign to humans such as vacuuming, picking up items, cooking, shopping and more. All jobs will eventually be done by artificially intelligent robotic machines. Even without this new development, all work will still be based on traditional methods such as task assignment, task resolution, and reward and punishment systems.

Today, we are beginning to see the first AI machine prototypes at work and many exciting projects are in the works. One such project is a robotic dog, which can recognize objects, humans and other dogs. Other projects include self-driving cars, self-piloted planes, artificial intelligent robots, and new weather systems.

The future of artificially intelligent robotic androids is exciting but also scary due to the autonomous capabilities of these machines. These robotic androids may be made up of two different types of artificial intelligence, a human-like non-conscious neural network (NCL) and a fully conscious human mind with all its own memory, thoughts, and feelings. Some NCL robots may have both systems in one system or may only have one. Many experts believe a full AI will be closer to human intelligence than any current technology can ever make.

Such concerns and apprehensions around AI have triggered the need for AI developments and implementations to be humanly, ethically, and legally more responsible.

Microsoft recognizes six principles that it believes should guide AI development and use (see link). These are fairness; reliability and safety; privacy and security; inclusiveness, transparency; and accountability.

PwC Responsible AI frameworkPwC has created a ‘Responsible AI Toolkit,’ which is a suite of customizable frameworks, tools, and processes designed to help organizations “harness the power of AI in an ethical and responsible manner, from strategy through execution.”

The field of ‘Responsible AI’ is generating more and more interest from various stakeholders, including governments, developers, human-resource experts, and user organizations, among others.

Distributed cloud is the new enterprise IT frontier

Distributed cloud is the new enterprise IT frontier

A titanic struggle for control of the cloud has begun in earnest by the emergence of various distributed cloud architectures. The shift is being driven by the need for enterprises to move away from traditional infrastructure-aspect-management to ‘utility cloud’ models, which can be far more sustainable as long-term strategies.

Amazon Web Services, IBM, Google, and Microsoft are the giants whose bet in the development of such virtualization technologies has won them large shares of the cloud market. Several other companies are also active in this arena, and a closer examination of the main players may reveal a number of smaller players too.

distributed cloud

Multiple drivers are fueling growth

The star attractions of distributed clouds include (1) low latency due to proximity to user organizations (e.g., on-premises delivery or edge delivery); (2) better adherence to compliance and data-residency requirements;  and (3) rapidly growing number of IoT devices, utility drones, etc.

With distributed cloud services, the service providers are moving closer to the users. These cloud services are offered not just as public-cloud-hosted solutions but also on the edge or the on-premise data center. This approach of having a SaaS model with an on-premise application has its own advantages like ease of provisioning new services, ease of management, and cost reductions in the form of greater operational efficiency brought about by streamlined infrastructure management.

Cloud service providers have a deep understanding of both the needs of enterprises and their unique business requirements. They use their expertise to develop solutions that meet these objectives. They are also well known for providing easy accessibility to their services from the internet. This enables fast and convenient access for end-users.

Enterprises may think that by switching over to a distributed cloud computing service they will lose control of their data. However, the cloud service providers enable excellent security and monitoring solutions. They also ensure that users are given the highest level of access to their data. By migrating on-premises software to a cloud service provider, enterprises do not stand to lose the expertise that their employees have built up during their time in the organization.

Google Anthos: A first-mover advantage

Google formally introduced Anthos, as an open platform that lets enterprises run an app anywhere—simply, flexibly, and securely. In a blog post, dated 9 April 2019, Google noted that, embracing open standards, Anthos let enterprises run applications, unmodified, on existing on-prem hardware investments or in the public cloud, and was based on the Cloud Services Platform announced earlier.

The announcement said that Anthos’ hybrid functionality was made generally available both on Google Cloud Platform (GCP) with Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE), and in the enterprise data center with GKE On-Prem.

Consistency, another post said, was the greatest common denominator, with Anthos making multi-cloud easy owing to its foundation of Kubernetes—specifically the Kubernetes-style API. “Using the latest upstream version as a starting point, Anthos can see, orchestrate and manage any workload that talks to the Kubernetes API—the lingua franca of modern application development, and an interface that supports more and more traditional workloads,” the blog post added.

AWS Outposts: Defending its cloud turf

Amazon Web Services (AWS) has been among the first movers. On 3 December 2019, the cloud services major announced the general availability of AWS Outposts, as fully managed and configurable compute and storage racks built with AWS-designed hardware that allow customers to run compute and storage on-premises, while seamlessly connecting to AWS’s broad array of services in the cloud. A pre-announcement for Outposts had come on 28 November 2018 at the re:Invent 2018.

“When we started thinking about offering a truly consistent hybrid experience, what we heard is that customers really wanted it to be the same—the same APIs, the same control plane, the same tools, the same hardware, and the same functionality. It turns out this is hard to do, and that’s the reason why existing options for on-premises solutions haven’t gotten much traction today,” said Matt Garman, Vice President, Compute Services, at AWS. “With AWS Outposts, customers can enjoy a truly consistent cloud environment using the native AWS services or VMware Cloud on AWS to operate a single enterprise IT environment across their on-premises locations and the cloud.”

IBM Cloud Satellite: Late but not left out

IBM has been a bit late to the distributed cloud party. It was only on 1 March 2021 that IBM announced that hybrid cloud services were now generally available in any environment—on any cloud, on premises or at the edge—via IBM Cloud Satellite. The partnership with Lumen Technologies, coupled with IBM’s long-standing deep presence in on-premise enterprise systems, could turn out to be a key differentiator. An IBM press release noted that Lumen Technologies and IBM have integrated IBM Cloud Satellite with the Lumen edge platform to enable clients to harness hybrid cloud services in near real-time and build innovative solutions at the edge.

“IBM is working with clients to leverage advanced technologies like edge computing and AI, enabling them to digitally transform with hybrid cloud while keeping data security at the forefront,” said Howard Boville, Head of IBM Hybrid Cloud Platform. “With IBM Cloud Satellite, clients can securely gain the benefits of cloud services anywhere, from the core of the data center to the farthest reaches of the network.”

“With the Lumen platform’s broad reach, we are giving our enterprise customers access to IBM Cloud Satellite to help them drive innovation more rapidly at the edge,” said Paul Savill, SVP Enterprise Product Management and Services at Lumen. “Our enterprise customers can now extend IBM Cloud services across Lumen’s robust global network, enabling them to deploy data-heavy edge applications that demand high security and ultra-low latency. By bringing secure and open hybrid cloud capabilities to the edge, our customers can propel their businesses forward and take advantage of the emerging applications of the 4th Industrial Revolution.”

Microsoft Azure Arc: General availability awaited

Julia White Corporate Vice President, Microsoft Azure, in a blog post, dated 4 November 2019, announced Azure Arc, as a set of technologies that unlocks new hybrid scenarios for customers by bringing Azure services and management to any infrastructure. “Azure Arc is available in preview starting today,” she said.

However, the general availability of Azure Arc was not to be announced anytime soon. Six months after the ‘preview’ announcement, Jeremy Winter Partner Director, Azure Management, published a blog post on 20 May 2020, noting that the company was delivering ‘Azure Arc enabled Kubernetes’ in preview to its customers. “With this, anyone can use Azure Arc to connect and configure any Kubernetes cluster across customer datacenters, edge locations, and multi-cloud,” he said.

“In addition, we are also announcing our first set of Azure Arc integration partners, including Red Hat OpenShift, Canonical Kubernetes, and Rancher Labs to ensure Azure Arc works great for all the key platforms our customers are using today,” the post added.

The announcement followed Azure Stack launch two years earlier, to enable a consistent cloud model, deployable on-premises. Meanwhile, Azure was extended to provide DevOps for any environment and any cloud. Microsoft also enabled cloud-powered security threat protection for any infrastructure, and unlocked the ability to run Microsoft Azure Cognitive Services AI models anywhere. Azure Arc was a significant leap forward to enable customers to move from just hybrid cloud to truly deliver innovation anywhere with Azure, the post added.

Looking ahead

A distributed cloud presents an incredible opportunity for businesses that are looking to improve their bottom line while also increasing their agility and versatility.

A distributed cloud is essentially a distributed version of public cloud computing which offers the capability to manage nearly everything from a single computer to thousands of computers. The cloud promises the benefits of a global network without having to worry about hardware, software, management, and monitoring issues. The distributed cloud goes a step further and also brings the assurance on fronts such as latency, compliance, and on-premise application modernization.

Why it’s time to regulate social media platforms now?

Why it’s time to regulate social media platforms now?

In the last two decades, social media platforms have gotten too big  and powerful but have mostly shrugged responsibility. Moreover, the big ones are literally without competition in their respective markets. There is no close direct competitor to a Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, et al.

In this sense, social media platforms have become analogous to governments that are either free of any opposition or have a very weak opposition to contend with. Isn’t that what we call nonconductive to democracy?

Indeed. Be it Facebook, WhatsApp, or Google, they keep changing privacy policies. Sometimes these changes are to meet the regulatory requirements of the markets they operate in but often these changes are also at their wills (I chose not to use whims here) and fancies. Mostly, these changes are to suit their commercial interests, period.

Arm-twisting users to accept new privacy rules

Take the most recent and glaring instance of WhatsApp, for example. In early 2021, the Facebook-owned social messaging behemoth decided to issue a new privacy-policy diktat to its more than 500 million users in India to take it (the new privacy policy) or leave it (use of the WhatsApp app). After the government didn’t approve of its new privacy policy, WhatsApp did a climbdown from its earlier stand. It has postponed the exit of those users who have not accepted its policy for now.

WhatsApp argues against the government’s new guidelines (see article) on the pretext of servicing the ‘privacy interest’ of its users. At the same time, it tries forcing a privacy policy on users that they don’t approve of, by making a blatant misuse of its dominant position in the social messaging market segment. (It may be noted that Telegram is a distant second to WhatsApp globally as well as in India).

See also: Ironic that WhatsApp breaches privacy but wants govt to practice it.

Sumant ParimalSumant Parimal, Chief Analyst at 5Jewels Research and a keen IT industry observer agrees, “When they (social media companies) want, they impose any kind of term and conditions on users while even compromising privacy of users, but when Indian government asks for something then they are citing privacy as reason for not complying.”

So, what recourse do users have against such misuse of power by these platforms? There is no social-media appellate who could step in to safeguard the democratic interests of netizens. They are left with no other choice but to approach real-world courts and governments, who sometimes do step in and intervene.

Has regulation become a need of the changed times?

There is a thin line between democracy and anarchy, just as there is a thin line between freedom of speech and indecency of speech.

Social media is a platform that espouses the tenets of democracy and freedom of speech but where these cherished values can easily be sucked by dungeons of anarchy and indecent speech.

Worse, social media–and more so the social messaging platforms—can be misused by criminals and terrorists for perpetuating their respective agendas. Tech media is often replete with news of various cybercrimes ranging from digital frauds and cyber stalking to ransomware attacks.

Is government-led regulation of social media platforms needed?

Let’s be fair—the average internet user faces a perennial dilemma whenever the topic crops up. Netizens tend to see government interventions as a double-edged sword, which can cut both ways. There have been numerous instances in the past when netizens have opposed steps taken by governments to regulate the internet.

There are obvious reasons for users to be distrustful of both the government and the internet companies when it comes to protecting their freedom of speech and expression, particularly on social media platforms.

While the average utopian users will quite likely be fine with an intervention that rids social media platforms of obscenity, violence, and disharmonies of all kinds, they may not like any intrusive policing and patrolling of their social walls and communities.

Alas, internet is no longer the global village it was conceived to be!

Nevertheless, with the right regulatory mechanisms in place, it can be made a lot better than what it is today.

Verified accounts are a good way to autoregulate

Anshuman TiwariAnshuman Tiwari, a well-known process transformation professional, podcaster, and YouTuber has summed it up aptly, “So there is this chaos around the banning of some social media services in India. While we can debate the interest and logic in doing this, there is a huge opportunity to sort this mess. All social media should be ‘verified.’ Verified accounts will behave better. And the trolls will be careful. Essentially, what you can’t say in real life and get away with should also be not said online.”

A lot of people will lose a lot of ‘followers’ though, he quips.

A good thing is that amidst all the recent social-media din and commotion in the wake of the Intermediary Guidelines issued earlier by Ministry of Electronics and IT (MEITY), there has been some positive development on the front. Most significantly, Twitter has recently said it will enable a system for users to verify their Twitter accounts. It noted on its official website, “Starting May 20, 2021, we’ll begin rolling out verification applications to everyone. If you don’t see it in your Account Settings tab right away, don’t worry! Everyone should be able to apply soon.”

It is a well-known fact that getting an account ‘verified’ on Twitter has historically been one of the most arduous and hard-to-achieve tasks for a common Twitterati.

Multi-stakeholder regulation can infuse trust

When it comes to the wider impact of social media, there are multiple stakeholders at play. These include the general users, the government, the opposition, public figures, businesses, academia, judiciary, and the social media platforms themselves, among others.

So, a panel that comprises representations from several of these stakeholder groups should ideally be allowed to monitor, judge, and moderate the social media platforms. Such a measure would help alleviate the apprehensions that the new rules and regulations may be misused by a government in power.

It would also ensure that social media has not just power, but also shoulders the responsibility that is required of an internet intermediary in today’s context. With up to half of India’s eligible population (less than 13/14 years of age) likely to be on one social media platform or the other, there indeed is a need to ensure that these platforms are not used by elements that are detrimental to the society and the nation.

Indeed, when too much power, direct or indirect, gets concentrated in any institution or platform, it is important to put the right set of checks and balances in place.

By issuing the intermediary guidelines, the government has done well to put the necessary checks in place. What it needs to do now is to balance it all by constituting a multi-stakeholder mechanism (panel) to monitor any potential breach and recommend any corrective measures or punitive actions to the concerned government authorities.

This way, the panel itself works like an intermediary between the government and the social media companies as well as between the users and the government or the social media companies.

Ironic that WhatsApp breaches privacy but wants govt to practice it!

Ironic that WhatsApp breaches privacy but wants govt to practice it!

Deepak KumarThe deadline to comply with the “Intermediary Guidelines” issued by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITY) ended on 25 May 2021 for Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter, and others. For most of the part, the guidelines are not hard to comply with. To its credit, the government has given the intermediaries significant amount of time to take the necessary actions.

However, none of the major social media majors at whom the guidelines were aimed at, have bothered to fully comply. It looks like they were hoping for the deadline to be extended, which didn’t happen in this particular case.

Twitter has not commented. Facebook said it “aims to comply,” and also wants to discuss some “issues which need more engagement.” Google said it has a “long history” of compliance.

WhatsApp has responded by filing a lawsuit in the Delhi High Court against the guidelines using the ‘privacy’ pretext. It is ironic that the social messaging major has used the ‘privacy’ argument to oppose the guidelines, especially when it has been widely accused by users as a usurper of users’ privacy rights.

Its argument is particularly in the context of rule to “enable identification of the first originator of the information” for certain types of messages. It says that enabling this feature would break its “end-to-end encryption” and undermine people’s right to ‘privacy.’

Sometime after the beginning of this year, WhatsApp started notifying its users that it had updated its privacy policy and the users could either accept the new policy or quit using WhatsApp by 8 February 2021. Later, it extended the deadline to accept the new privacy policy by 15 May.

Better World had done a quick survey with 565 users, in which only around 18% user said the change didn’t bother them at all. Of the remaining 82%, 37% users considered the new privacy policy a serious breach of their privacy, while 45% said they it was not good, though they could live with it.

To see the survey details, read: Better World User Survey on WhatsApp Privacy Policy.

Interestingly, the survey also showed a majority of users had no qualms in leaving WhatsApp on privacy issue. Around 18% of respondents said they had already quit WhatsApp as the only app, while another 25% said they planned to do so within a week’s time and yet another 29% said they planned to quit in a month’s time.

The key alternatives to WhatsApp are Telegram and Signal, albeit they have significantly less number of users when compared with WhatsApp. For instance, Telegram is estimated to have around 500 million users as against 2 billion WhatsApp users globally. In India, WhatsApp has around 530 million users, as per industry estimates. (It goes without saying that other social messaging platforms will also need to comply with the new guidelines as much as WhatsApp.)

Rules that intermediaries are required to comply with

The rules were published on 25 February 2021 by Ministry of Electronics and IT (MEITY)

  • Due diligence to followed by intermediaries: the rules prescribe due diligence that must be followed by intermediaries, including social media intermediaries. in case, due diligence is not followed by the intermediary, safe harbor provisions will not apply to them.
  • There will be two categories of social media intermediaries, namely, social media intermediaries and significant social media intermediaries, based on the number of users on the social media platform. The rules require the significant social media intermediaries to follow certain additional due diligence.
  • Grievance redressal mechanism: The intermediaries should establish a grievance redressal mechanism for receiving resolving complaints from the users or victims. intermediaries shall appoint a grievance officer to deal with such complaints and share the name and contact details of such officer. Grievance officer shall acknowledge the complaint within 24 hours and resolve it within 15 days from its receipt.
  • Ensuring online safety and dignity of users, especially women users: Intermediaries shall remove or disable access within 24 hours of receipt of complaints of contents that exposes individuals in full or partial nudity or is in the nature of impersonation, etc. Such a complaint can be filed either by the individual or by any other person on his/her behalf.
  • Additional due diligence to be followed by significant social media intermediary:
    • Appoint a chief compliance officer who shall be responsible for ensuring compliance with the Act and Rules. Such a person should be a resident in India.
    • Appoint a nodal contact person for 24×7 coordination with law enforcement agencies. Such a person shall be a resident in India.
    • Appoint a resident grievance officer who shall perform the functions mentioned under Grievance Redressal Mechanism. Such a person shall be a resident in India.
    • Publish a monthly compliance report mentioning the details of complaints received and action taken on the complaints as well as details of contents removed proactively by the significant social media intermediary.
    • Enable identification of the first originator of the information that is required only for the purposes of prevention, detection, investigation, prosecution or punishment of an offence related to sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the State, friendly relations with foreign States, or public order or of incitement to an offence relating to the above or in relation with rape, sexually explicit material or child sexual abuse material punishable with imprisonment for a term of not less than five years. Intermediary shall not be required to disclose the contents of any message or any other information to the first originator.
    • Have a physical contact address in India published on its website or mobile app or both.
    • Provided an appropriate mechanism for users to verify their accounts and provided with demonstrable and visible mark of verification.
    • Provide users an opportunity to be heard in cases where intermediaries remove or disable user access to any information on their own accord. A prior intimation shall be communicated to the user who has shared that information with a notice explaining the grounds and reasons for such action. Users must be provided an adequate and reasonable opportunity to dispute the action taken by the intermediary.
  • Removal of unlawful information: An intermediary upon receiving actual knowledge in the form of an order by a court or being notified by the Appropriate Govt. or its agencies through authorized officer should not host or publish any information which is prohibited under any law in relation to the interest of the sovereignty and integrity of India, public order, friendly relations with foreign countries etc.
5G is a missing cog in digital transformation wheel

5G is a missing cog in digital transformation wheel

In the last one year, the new remote-working normal has accelerated the adoption of most of the ‘digital-transformation-enabling technologies’ in a big way. There has been a lone notable exception though—5G! Like cloud, analytics, and mobility, 5G has been hailed as a foundational technology block for constructing the superstructure for enabling digital transformation. However, while investments in cloud and big data/analytics have swelled, 5G streams have dried up even before they could be formed.

For example, NASSCOM pegs the cloud computing market in India at $2.2 billion and expects it to clock a growth of 30% year-on-year. All major public-cloud service providers, including Microsoft, IBM, Google, and Amazon Web Services have established strong presence in India.

5G, on the other hand, is yet to be launched, as the commercial licenses are not yet in place. Auctions for 5G spectrum have got delayed and there are little chance that they will be held this calendar year. Early this month, on 4 May 2021, the Department of Telecom (DoT) approved of 5G trials to be conducted over a six-month period. This implies that the trials will not get completed before October–November this year, so auctions will get pushed to 2022.

(See: Tipping point for 5G networks likely in 2023, says Report)

(Also: India needs a coherent industry approach for 5G success)

5G is digital transformation’s missing pillar

Until 5G is licensed and deployed, digital transformation (DX) projects in India, whether at enterprises or in the government, will remain bereft of a key building block. A slew of next-generation digital applications, especially those involving internet of things (IoT),  can realize their true potential only with the advent of 5G.

The DoT press release had rightly noted, “The objectives of conducting 5G trials include testing 5G spectrum propagation characteristics especially in the Indian context; model tuning and evaluation of chosen equipment and vendors; testing of indigenous technology; testing of applications (such as tele-medicine, tele-education, augmented/virtual reality, drone-based agricultural monitoring, etc.); and to test 5G phones and devices.”

“5G technology is expected to deliver improved user experience in terms of data download rates (expected to be 10 times that of 4G), up to three times greater spectrum efficiency, and ultra-low latency to enable Industry 4.0. Applications are across a wide range of sectors such as agriculture, education, health, transport, traffic management, smart cities, smart homes, and multiple applications of internet of things (IoT),” the release had added.

IoT platforms await a 5G push

In April 2021, Airtel had launched its ‘Airtel IoT’ integrated platform that enables enterprises to harness the power of IoT and be ready for the emerging era of connected things. Airtel counts some key customers that have been using Airtel’s IoT solutions. These include MG Motor, Pine Labs, Paytm, Kirloskar, BSES, Genus, and Kent, which are spread across industry sectors such as manufacturing, logistics, automobiles, BFSI, and utilities.

Close on the heels of the launch of Airtel IoT, Vodafone–Idea too launched its IoT solutions for enterprises in April itself.

While these platforms will be functional even in the absence of 5G networks, their true digital transformation (DX) potential will be unlocked only after the advent of 5G.

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