To

All Candidates seeking election to Karnataka Assembly

A Memorandum from “Netizens of Karnataka” who are expected to be over 12% of the population in the State and over 20% in the Urban area.

Dear Sir/Madam

I understand that you are contesting the forthcoming Assembly elections in Karnataka. At the outset, I wish you all the best.

I am one of the voters of Karnataka from the Basavanagudi constituency. I am also a “Netizen” meaning, a citizen of the cyber space using Internet for various activities of mine both social and commercial. I have been a Netizen activist taking up the causes of Netizens in various fora from time to time. I am also the founder of www.naavi.org, founder secretary of Cyber Society of India, Founder Trustee of IIIT Law, Founder Trustee of Digital Society of India etc. I have also recently formed an “All India Forum of Netizens” on the web (www.aifon.org.in).

I believe that Internet has a great role to play in the welfare of the society . I consider that Internet can be used for various activities in Governance and can be a good tool in achieving “Prosperity of the Society through Netizens”. 

If you/your party believe that  “Transparency”, “Good Governance”, “Access to Citizens”, “Freedom” are important objectives you pursue, I believe that  Internet is perhaps the tool that could achieve these objectives. 

The “Voice of the Netizens” therefore needs to be heard and  I am  looking at how your party is looking at “Netizens” as a “Class of Voters” and how you are intending to address their needs.

I consider that “Welfare of Netizens” should also be part of the agenda of any candidate seeking the elections and on behalf of the Netizens in general, I am placing the following demands before you.

Charter of Demands from Netizens:

1. Digital ID for all (like Aadhar number)

2. Internet access for all at affordable cost

3.Cyber Security policy for the State

4. Adjudication facility to be made functional

5. Netizen Rights Commission for the State

6. E Consumer Protection

7. Centralized Cyber Teaching upto X standard

I have explained in detail why I am raising these demands in the website www.aifon.org.in but am briefly reiterating the benefits below.

1. Digital IDs:

In order to provide larger, meaningful  participation of Netizens in the Governance of the society it is essential that they are able to interact with the administration in a legally acceptable manner establishing  proper identity in communications. Indian law already provides legal recognition to “Digital Signatures” which can be used as a non repudiable authentication of any person in emails or other internet communications. Citizens who have a “Voter ID” can vote in physical space. If they have a “Digital ID” they can even vote electronically. There can also be frequent referendum on issues of importance to the public and we can break the current corrupt politician’s role in administration according to which they behave as if it is their right to consider that  “Once elected, they are Kings for 5 years”.

I therefore consider that there should be free digital ID provided to all Netizens just as the free Aadhar ID for all Citizens. We can first start this with Bangalore city and use it in the Governance of Bangalore administration. It can enable better participation of citizens in the Governance, better transparency, better citizen-administrator interaction etc.etc.

2. Internet Access for All

This is already a concept which many countries have adopted. Internet access has been defined by some countries as a “Fundamental Human Right” such as air and water and the Governments are prepared to provide “Free Internet Access” to its citizens. This is a basic infrastructure like laying roads and other services can be delivered through the Internet to the public.

We can consider this in the first step as “Affordable Internet Access” and later as “Free Internet Access”. Many politicians promise Colour TV, Aakash Tablet etc to citizens. Providing free Internet access at least for citizen-government interaction (like toll free telephone) is not difficult or expensive. Kiosks can be set up for this purpose in public places which are connected only to Government websites and select facilities such as e-mail where the access is free. 

3. Cyber Security 

In order to support the internet infrastructure, it is also necessary to have adequate security and just as “Law and Order” is a responsibility of the Government, “Cyber Security” is a responsibility of the Net oriented Governance. I had managed a few years back to extract a promise from the then CM of the State to declare Bangalore as the “Cyber Security Capital” and undertake various activities to enhance the cyber security in Bangalore and Karnataka. I have also on my own worked on the mission of “Cyber Law Awareness in Karnataka”. 

More initiatives need to be taken for making Karnataka the Safest Cyber State in India. This will enable more international investments in IT projects in the State and has economic implications.

4. Adjudication facility to be made functional

Karnataka is one state in India which does not have a proper Cyber Judiciary System. Cyber Crime victims of Karnataka seeking Civil remedies have been denied Adjudication facility by the executives. This has provided a free rein to the Cyber Criminals. The Adjudication office needs to be re-established.

5. Netizen Rights Commission for the State

In order to protect the rights of Netizens in the State, a separate “Netizen Rights Commission” would be helpful. This will supplement the activities of the Karnataka Human Rights Commission.

E Consumer Protection

Once we recognize the importance of Internet, E Commerce is bound to grow and this needs protection of E Consumers. Hence a proper policy and administration of E Consumer protection is required.

Cyber Education

Internet is a great medium of communication. Just to demonstrate its power I am including the “Cyber Vidyalaya” project which also had been presented to earlier Karnataka Governments as a suggestion. The idea is to create a statewide network where the best teachers contribute and create teaching material which is delivered through internet to all Government Schools which are reeling under shortage of teachers. Along with free internet access this will assist in the meeting of the Right to Education obligations. Initially this project can be extended upto X standard so that education upto X standard can be delivered to all citizens of the State at a nominal cost to the Government.

There could be additional projects of this type which are citizen friendly, economical and reach out to the real needs of the society.

By committing to the Netizen’s Charter, you would be able to express your commitment to growth through technology. Your party would get the image as “Progressive”.

I am aware that for the benefits of Internet to be reaped in full, we need penetration of Internet at levels close to 80% and we have a long way to go. But by using he mobile penetration and setting up Internet kiosks both in the Government sector and with participation of the public through “Cyber Cafes”, it is possible to achieve a quantum growth of Internet penetration within a short time. I have other detailed plans to achieve this. What we need now is to show case some projects which make people adopt the use of Internet for the betterment of the society rather than only for fun.

With this background, I request  you individually to accept and adopt the Charter of Demands and incorporate it into your manifesto.

Check www.aifon.org.in for a more detailed explanation of the objectives that this memorandum represents.

Regards

Na.Vijayashankar as a Voter of Karnataka

P.S: I request all those who have access to the candidates to spread this message across.

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