India-Australia Collaboration Important for Development of Critical Technologies and Shaping its Governance – Sarah Storey, Deputy High Commissioner, Australian High Commission to India at CUTS National Workshop on 6G

APN News, September 25, 2023

New Delhi: Speaking at the National Workshop on Ethical Framework for 6G organised by CUTS International, in partnership with IIIT Bangalore at the Constitution Club of India, New Delhi yesterday, Ms. Sarah Storey, Deputy High Commissioner, Australian High Commission to India highlighted that India and Australia have an important role to play and contribute to the development of critical and emerging technologies and shaping of its governance framework.

Recognising opportunities between Australia and India to work on key technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), blockchain, and 6G, Ms. Storey added that technology should be designed, developed, governed, and used based on shared democratic values. She also emphasised on the need to build strong partnerships with like-minded countries to tackle the challenges presented by critical and emerging technologies, including 6G.

Echoing this, Mr. Rakesh Maheshwari, CUTS Distinguished Fellow, Former Senior Director and Group Coordinator, Cyber Laws and Data Governance, Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, highlighted that as we move towards 6G, while benefit of society would happen, it also throws a lot of challenges particularly in the area of cybersecurity and protection of personal data. In this regard, he highlighted that deployment of a reliable telecommunication network is fundamental to ensure security and resilience of cyberspace.

Mr. Jitendra Bhoi, ADG (SRI), Department of Telecommunications, Government of India highlighted that particularly for 6G development, apart from establishment of regional area office at ITU and launch of Bharat 6G vision, the government also set up two test beds- Terahertz and Advanced Optical Communication. These test beds are a part of efforts being undertaken towards India’s vision to be a leader in the 6G domain, he said. He added that India is making efforts to bring closer global standard organisations and encourages academic institutions, industry and organisations like CUTS to participate for holistic discussion.

With this background, Prof. V Sridhar, IIIT Bangalore, shared details of the project being undertaken jointly by CUTS, IIIT Bangalore and Australian Risk Policy Institute (ARPI) titled “Ethical 6G: Identifying Elements of Ethical and Regulatory Framework for 6G and Creating Opportunities for India and Australia”.

In his presentation, Prof. Sridhar highlighted the risks and vulnerabilities of 6G and underlined the importance of consumer protection in 6G. Mr. Ujjwal Kumar, Associate Director and Deputy Head CUTS CIER further added that the elements of the ethical framework being considered in this project included cybersecurity, privacy and data protection, consumer protection, competition, trusted ecosystem, inclusivity, and environment sustainability.

Given the importance of coordinated efforts for providing a trusted network environment, across borders, the need for collaborative standard setting was also discussed at the workshop. Prof Huzur Saran, IIT Delhi contextualised the timeline saying that 6G is still a little nebulous.

Taking the discussion forward, Mr. Bharat Bhatia, President of ITU-APT Foundation, which was also a supporting association for the event, threw light on the 6G standardisation proposed timelines and usage scenarios of IMT-2030.

Emphasising upon the need for effective regulation, Mr. Mahesh Uppal, Director, Com First said that there is a need for a principle-based regulation for emerging technologies like 6G rather than a detailed one. He also cautioned against the micro-regulation of these technologies as this may hamper innovation.

Mr. Vikram Tiwathia, Deputy Director General, COAI said that the evolving focus of 6G must centre on trust, security, and optimising spectrum utilisation. COAI was also a supporting association for this event.

Aruna Sharma, CUTS Distinguished Fellow, Former Secretary, Govt. of India said that Ethical considerations encompass equity and equal opportunity. More and more participants should have access to the spectrum in order to enable innovation. Government policy should act as a facilitator rather than engage in micromanagement.

The workshop concluded with highlighting the importance of re-evaluating spectrum policies that ensures innovation, energy sustainability, robust security, and privacy. Discussions emphasised the need for timely spectrum identification for 6G, R&D and investment, an outcome-oriented standardisation approach and fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory licensing.

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