Privacy Mode fellowship programme

Privacy Mode fellowship programme

Documenting privacy best practices in industry

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Submissions close 15 Feb 2022, 11:55 PM

Conversations around privacy and data security are increasing every day. The government has tabled a Personal Data Protection bill in the parliament, and a Joint Parliamentary Committee has presented its report on the potential in, and concerns over privacy and personal data.

There is now a need to do data privacy across domains and at scale. The Privacy Mode Fellowship programme is set in this context.
The goal of the programme is to help practitioners - from tech, academia and social impact backgrounds - to document practices that can be widely adopted across the industry, and innovated upon.
If this is you, apply to be a Privacy Mode fellow today.


Duration of the fellowship programme: 3 months from 1 February to 30 April.

Time commitment involved: Part-time. As a Fellow, you will do your Fellowship projects alongside your day jobs. The programme will require between one and four hours per week to produce the output.

Expected output
a. A detailed article of 1,000 to 2,000 words - with illustrations.
b. 2-3 videos explaining practice and learnings in sequence.

Compensation: Rs. 1,50,000 - paid on completion of milestones during the Fellowship period.

Other benefits: As a Fellow, you will receive the following infrastructure and support:
- Feedback and mentorship - a two-member jury of experts will guide selected applicants through conceptualization and documentation stages. The jury members for the fellowship programme are:
1. Uzma Barlaskar, Head of Privacy and Growth at WhatsApp
2. Anand Venkatanarayanan, Independent Cybersecurity Researcher
- Editorial desk with copy-editing, proof reading and graphic design resources to help you complete your outputs.
- Distribution and elevation of final outputs.

Who can apply:
1. Tech practitioners - senior engineer, product manager, engineering manager, privacy officer - who work on data governance and privacy in their organizations.
2. Individuals from Academia who work on data privacy.
3. Individuals working on social impact via data privacy.

Five applicants will be selected to participate in the first batch of the Fellowship Programme.

How to apply

To apply for the Fellowship, submit the following here:

  1. A statement of intent and purpose, detailing the following-
    - What problem area are you solving? The following are prompts you can choose from:
    1. Data protection/security practices
    2. Consent frameworks tied to purpose use limitations
    3. Data rights
    4. Encryption practices
      - A description of the problem and the context around it.
      - A description of the solution and evidence of how it was implemented at your company.
      - Results achieved through this.
  2. The form in which you see the knowledge finally shaping up as.
  3. Two samples of work - written or video.
  4. A CV.

Selection process

The following criteria will be applied for selecting fellows:

  1. Diversity - women, trans and gender non conforming persons and individuals from marginalised social contexts will be given preference.
  2. Candidates with prior speaking/writing experience.
  3. Candidates with mid to senior engineering and product leadership roles will be given preference.

Contact information

For queries about the Fellowship Programme, mail or leave a comment in the comments section

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Deep dives into privacy and security, and understanding needs of the Indian tech ecosystem through guides, research, collaboration, events and conferences. Sponsors: Privacy Mode’s programmes are sponsored by: more

Mahima Sood


Statement of Purpose

Submitted Jan 8, 2022

I’ve often found myself going to Ray Kurzweil’s words from “Singularity is Near”, where he talks about epochs. We are at the edge of epoch 5, where humans and machines are uniquely poised in an interdisciplinary collaboration. In today’s corollary, data is more valuable than oil. Machines are used to harvest and mine data, which in turn is used to determine the policies that govern us. This ranges from triage situations in hospitals and credit risk checks for loans, to determining prison sentences and bails for convicts.

While the plethora of work being done with data is astounding, it falls differently in Indian context. Global population, and the vastly unequal distribution of resources mean that normative, first-world utilisation of data needs to be altered. We need applications that can optimise resource distribution, aid an overworked judiciary, improve access to healthcare in the remotest of villages, and improve literacy. One aspect that often gets ignored in innovation narratives is that we need these applications to preserve citizens’ privacy, while maintaining their integrity and robustness.

To this end, I believe the key is concurrent discourse about data ethics while we continue building the digital infrastructure. Introduction of Personal and Non-Personal Data Protection bills is a welcome step, but when it comes to the masses, this is still a foreign concept. Ideas of privacy, transparency, accountability etc. are rarely included in a typical software development lifecycle. Academia mentions this but it falls short of practical implementation. At times, lack of clarity on how to operationalise these concepts is also a hurdle.

I want to bridge this gap between ideation and practice by creating a roadmap of recommendations. This can be accomplished as a simple checklist or a more detailed list of “things to do” that can be consulted while requirement gathering, and cross-checked against during deployment and testing. Apart from this, documentation and educative literature, both technical and for general public, can be done to bring the idea of ethical data practices to the forefront.

I plan to follow a multistep approach to do this. A systematic literature review to analyse current practices will be followed by interactions with various industry practitioners and stakeholders who are privy to various steps in creation of digital infrastructure. Once the common industry practices have been pinpointed, I want to identify the gaps where ethical principles of Transparency, Accountability, Robustness and Fairness ought to be considered. This will include steps on what to do, how to do and when to do. Once this is done, the stakeholders will be consulted again to discuss feasibility of these recommendations. A collaborative effort can ease theoretical concepts into practice.

My aim is to work towards creating a culture that values and considers data ethics while we navigate the 5th epoch. Gradual, dedicated steps like this are the only means of ensuring that we move towards an ethical, digitally equitable world.


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