Writer

Rahul Matthan

45 posts

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We need greater clarity on internet freedom in India

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Rahul Matthan Last year, I wrote in this column that even though as a country we are digitizing faster than almost any other in the world, given the alacrity with which our government shuts down the internet, we will fail to reach the tipping point of digital ... More »

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How Britain got ahead of us in economic development

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Rahul Matthan I have often wondered why India, a dominant force on the global stage until the mid 19th century, suddenly and almost without protest, abdicated its leadership position to a handful of European countries that were, until then, relatively underdev... More »

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The rise of TikTok and regulatory eyebrows in the US

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Rahul Matthan TikTok has taken the world by storm. The viral app that allows users to post short videos, usually lip-syncing to a soundtrack with hilarious results, was, according to various sources, among the world’s five most-downloaded non-game apps of 2019... More »

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The value of scepticism in the age of deep-fake videos

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Rahul Matthan Last week, when trouble erupted in the North-East, someone in my friends’ circle sent our group a video that showed the police opening fire on a crowd of peaceful protesters—instantly felling two of them in cold blood. As the video played on, the... More »

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Why Aadhaar has fallen Short of its Promise

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Rahul Matthan When it was first announced, it seemed too ambitious to succeed. In a country where the infrastructure was patchy and largely non-existent, no one thought a digital project of its magnitude had any hope of taking off. Which is why, at the beginni... More »

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We must guard against the casual disregard of science

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Rahul Matthan In the 1930s, Trofim Lysenko was officially put in charge of agriculture in the Soviet Union, allowing him to implement a radically Marxist view of biology, one of his own invention. Lysenko believed that plants and animals are shaped by their en... More »

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The trouble with using DNA matches to nab criminals

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Rahul Matthan From 1974 to 1986, residents of California were terrorized by the Golden State Killer, a serial criminal who committed 13 murders, 50 rapes and more than 100 burglaries in the state. Law enforcement agencies struggled to identify the perpetrator ... More »

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A blueprint for an effective data protection authority

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Rahul Matthan The announcement last week of the items of legislative business for the winter session of Parliament caused a mild furore in some of the policy circles that I inhabit. Twenty-fifth on the list of new bills scheduled for “introduction, considerati... More »

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Why our attempt to escape online outrage might fail

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Rahul Matthan Last week in India, there was a mass exodus from Twitter. Everyone left to join Mastodon, a federated social media platform whose single biggest attraction is that it’s still moderated by humans. While the immediate reason for the migration was t... More »

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Why it’s not okay to compromise privacy for security

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Rahul Matthan Last week, when information about the WhatsApp hack broke, news channels were falling over themselves to try and make sense of what it really meant. I found myself on TV (ironically patched into the live broadcast through a WhatsApp video call) b... More »