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Mozilla (Firefox) continues India focus: NLS-SAM assoc’ Tarun Krishnakumar succeeds NUJS-Rhodesian, new policy advisor Amba Kak as cyber-scholar

Tarun Krishnakumar (l), Amba Kak spearhead Mozilla India initiativesTarun Krishnakumar (l), Amba Kak spearhead Mozilla India initiatives

Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas associate and NLSIU Bangalore 2015 graduate Tarun Krishnakumar has been selected as one of Mozilla’s latest batch of 26 global fellows in “openness, science and tech policy”, spending up to a year “creating a more secure, inclusive and decentralised internet”, according to an announcement from the non-profit organisation most famous for open source initiatives such as the Mozilla Firefox browser.

It is understood he will be leaving Shardul Amarchand some time later this month, with a brief to “improve stakeholder trust in the digital ecosystem through comparative research, capacity building, and engagement on substantive and procedural issues relating to law enforcement access to data, digital evidence, privacy, and cybersecurity” as an independent researcher funded by Mozilla, according to the organisation.

He had joined Shardul Amarchand in 2015, but from September 2016 he was also a legal fellow at the Wikipedia parent organisation, the Wikimedia Foundation, in San Francisco for six months. He is dual qualified to practise in India and California.

India paths to Mozilla (often lead via CIS)

Krishnakumar follows in the footsteps of Amba Kak, who was Mozilla’s India-based global fellow from July 2017 for a year, and became Mozilla’s India-based public policy advisor in June of this year. Their work would “complement and amplify” each others’, Kak said. Krishnakumar declined to comment at this point.

While Mozilla didn’t have an India office, around 40% of Mozilla employees, fellows and advisors were working remotely in any case, according to Kak.

In 2013, Kak was NUJS Kolkata’s first Rhodes scholar in seven years. She is also a legal consultant to the National Institute of Public Finance and Policy in Delhi, and had worked as a legal consultant for the Ministry of Tribal Affairs.

Kak said: “My role is to help develop Mozilla’s positions on laws, regulations, and other political developments that could affect the open internet. Based in Delhi, my focus is India but I also work on policy developments elsewhere, like recently, in Brazil.”

Her joining Mozilla as advisor preceded well-known Bangalore-based technology law and policy advocate (but non-lawyer) Sunil Abraham moving from the Centre for Internet and Society (CIS), where he was executive director, to join Mozilla as its new VP, leadership programs. He would be moving to Berlin in January 2019, according to Mozilla’s blog announcing his joining.

Kak and Krishnakumar too had worked at CIS as research officer and researcher respectively for some time between 2014 and 2016.

Kak explained that Mozilla was not a newcomer to India’s increasingly important and public debates around technology and the internet.

“Mozilla has been an active participant in internet policy debates in India for some years now,” she said, with senior global policy manager Jochai Ben-Avie having “participated consistently in TRAIs consultation on net neutrality, cloud computing, and data protection through official submissions”, that Mozilla has made public on its website.

“Our priority is to leverage our unique position as a global community of technologists, thinkers, and builders that believes in both advocating for, and building for an open internet.”

Mozilla has created the popular open-source Firefox web browser that enjoys around a global 5-10% market share and competes with the dominant Google’s Chrome browser (yet receives the vast majority of its funds from a deal with Google to use its as a default search engine in Firefox).

Firefox also owns several other software products, such as Pocket, as well as sponsoring a number of open source initiatives and products, and having a strong pro-privacy focus as part of its philosophy.

“In the debate on data protection in India, when Mozilla asserts that privacy and innovation should not be seen as conflicting, this is not just a principle we believe in but a value we practice in the products we build,” noted Kak.

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Like +6 Object -1 Guest 05 Sep 18, 13:06  interesting
What exaclty is Firefox hoping to achieve by hiring battery of lawyers?
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Like +0 Object -0 Dang 06 Sep 18, 00:09
@kian: Someone needs to proof read articles before publishing.
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Like +1 Object -0 kianganz 06 Sep 18, 00:12 LI subscriber
Thanks for reminding me - have proofread again and fixed two typos. :)
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